In modern world, technology is a thing that gets updated day by day. Developers and scientists are working on the possibilities of new inventions that can make human life easier.
Let’s take the example of cars. In the beginning it was just a running mechanical part. But gradually the features got added up and now we are in the era where we have automated cars with internet connection and many other facilities. Technology is getting updated. Still, a coin will have two sides. Every invention has a brighter side and a darker side.
Researchers claims that the modern features built in the new cars are inviting serious cyber-attacks. As new generation cars have internet facility and can be connected to more than one system, they are vulnerable to data breaches which can remotely access and manipulate the data of the systems. This can cause major problems such as leak of personal information, compromise to the security mechanism and can even take control of the vehicle.
This is dangerous!
Nowadays car manufacturing is a team work of innovative automakers, software developers and tech companies. It is not just the engine and the mechanical parts that makes today’s car efficient. Apart from driving, people seek for entertainment, information options as well as internet connection.
The modern cars today are increasingly dependent on applications, sensors, vehicle to vehicle communication and other useful features which allow the driver to interact with service providers and infrastructures.
The excessive growth in the technology of cars has made hackers to target them and to gain the control of the cars. The hacking can be used for both commercial and criminal purposes. Some attacks are performed silently, without the concern of the owner. Once the system of a car is compromised, the hackers can easily get the access of your trip history, geo location, financial data etc.
Like all other connected systems, car functions pose some vulnerability which is exploited by the cyber hackers. There are developers who have replaced the concept of physical ignitions with keyless systems, which depend on mobile applications. Since most of the features in car are being connected to mobile device, it becomes easy for the hackers to get into the system of the car.
While hacking, the hackers mainly target majority controls like acceleration, brakes, steering etc. Along with that they also find a way to steal personal informations and performance statistics.
However, cryptography can be used to protect our cars from cyber-attacks. Knowing this criterion, the hackers try to break the cryptography keys by performing several reverse engineering techniques. They try to insert compiled code and analyses whether it can break the keys. Or, they will look out for the warning signs like ‘Engine failure’ or ‘brakes disabled’ to activate them.
Major threats faced by connected cars
- Vehicle component complexity
The major functions of the car such as powerstrain, body control subnet, chassis control subnet and infotainment subnet along with external components like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB etc. can be the vulnerabilities which the hacker focuses to launch the attack
- Power grid disruption
We have fuel consuming cars as well as electric cars. Both are vulnerable to attacks. While infecting the electric cars, they take up the control of the power grid systems. They will cause disruption in the charging cycle and thereby compromising the system.
- Mobile devices
In majority of the cars, mobile phone is used as a stimulator to control key functions, headlights, locks, wipers etc. So by infecting the controlling mobile phones, the hackers can take up the systems and control the vehicle.
All these happenings can be avoided by the use of Application shielding. Application shielding is a technique which increases the security and can be directly added to the applications so that they will have the capability to withstand attacks. Application shielding comes with the collaboration of prevention, detection, remediation and prediction. The main aim of Application shielding is to remove the elements of reverse engineering which are susceptible to attacks. They try to complicate the code and thereby maintain the functionality. This is achieved by a technique called control flow obfuscation.
To protect the cryptographic keys from attacks, White box cryptography is used. They ensure that the keys remain invisible in the views of the hacker.
Another technique called the Integrity protection prevents the attackers from doing changes in the application code.
At times, tools such as debuggers are also used to stop cyber-attacks against cars.