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The Future of Hi-Tech Auto Theft 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the stealing-the-car-of-the-future dept.
NicknamesAreStupid writes "Over the past twenty years, car theft has declined as new models incorporated electronic security methods that thwarted simple hot-wiring. The tide may now be turning, as cars become the next Windows PC. The Center for Automobile Embedded Systems Security has posted an interesting paper from UCSD and UW that describes how modern cars can be cracked (PDF). Unlike the old days of window jimmies, these exploits range from attacks through the CD or iPod port to cellular attacks that take inventory of thousands of cars and offer roaming thieves Yelp-like choices ('our favorite is mint green with leather') with unlocked doors and running engines."
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The Future of Hi-Tech Auto Theft

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  • Yes, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:36PM (#38677116)
    Yes I would download a car.
    • MagnaVolt (Score:4, Funny)

      by sycodon (149926) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:51PM (#38677368)

      I'll stick with my trusty MagnaVolt System. [youtube.com]

      • Back in the late 90s, I remembering having a conversation with a car audio guy. He had a rather brilliant (if not deadly) idea. Run two exposed wires in parallel along the inside of the driver side door handle connected to the probes of a hidden taser (stun gun). When the would-be thief attempts to open the door, he get's a nasty little shock.

        Only one problem with the idea. A semi-closed fist will clench harder when exposed to electricity. At least for AC current, not sure about DC however.

    • Wait until 3D printer copies of your car start appearing. "Hey, he has the same bumper sticker and fast food wrappers in the front seat..."

      • Re:Yes, (Score:4, Funny)

        by N0Man74 (1620447) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:18PM (#38679440)

        Yes, in the future, when 3D printers improve by leaps and bounds and when the Music and Movie industries have won and it will become illegal to hum copyrighted works in the elevator, we will see Public Service Advertisements that say...

        "You wouldn't steal a song would you!? Don't steal that car! Downloading a car is illegal!"

    • Re:Yes, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by forkfail (228161) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:55PM (#38678080)

      What happens if the app store decides to disable [electronista.com] your car, though?

    • by nazsco (695026) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @10:17PM (#38681370) Journal

      always wondered. you can pretty much drive by some OBD-II ports... bmw can be started even by my old obd-I.

      and lots of people buy those bluetooth dongles just so they can have an extra tachometer on their iphones on the dash.

      may not be so usefull for stealing the car... as i doubt it has power when the car is off... but may very well be the case, i don't know. But imagine sending the acelerate signal on the highway to everyone around you that has such device

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:37PM (#38677134)

    one of the reasons auto theft declined is police busted and closed chop shops that took and resold the parts. and you can now buy cheap off brand parts for any car as well. not like anyone stole cars back in the day for personal use

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Joyriding must be a foreign concept to you then...

    • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:47PM (#38677292)

      That's one, but around here it's increasingly common for cars to be stolen and then returned hours later after having completed a drug run in the stolen vehicle.

      Beyond that bait cars and lojacks as well as other countermeasures make it a lot more likely that car thieves will be caught before they can profit from their crime.

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday January 12, 2012 @05:20PM (#38678370) Journal

        That's one, but around here it's increasingly common for cars to be stolen and then returned hours later after having completed a drug run in the stolen vehicle.

        The last time I parked my car in a New York City dirt lot it was returned to me with 30 extra miles on odometer. It was also washed, detailed and had a full tank of gas. I don't want to think about what they did with my car but at least they were polite about it....

        • That reminds me of an episode of the "Top Cat" cartoon where the guys made money parking cars and renting them out for the day.

    • by AlienSexist (686923) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:47PM (#38677302)
      My understanding is that there is a very hot market for stolen whole cars in Asia, Mexico, and Central & South America. Driven across the border to Mexico for further distribution, sometimes by ship. Pickup trucks in particular are being taken for this purpose. You're right though. Most often cars are not stolen, only broken into for their contents or disassembled for valuable parts. Catalytic converter thefts have been very high because they contain various mixtures of platinum, palladium, rhodium and prices for those precious metals were very high. Just like there's been a huge rash in national copper thefts.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        . Catalytic converter thefts have been very high because they contain various mixtures of platinum, palladium, rhodium and prices for those precious metals were very high.

        Hmm...now, I'd not have a problem with them taking my catalytic converter off the car (leave me the car)...with less air restriction, I'd likely have more performance!!

        And, not like I live where they do sniff tests on inspections....I've never lived where they do that..sounds like a PITA.

        • by CyberTech (141565)

          . Catalytic converter thefts have been very high because they contain various mixtures of platinum, palladium, rhodium and prices for those precious metals were very high.

          Hmm...now, I'd not have a problem with them taking my catalytic converter off the car (leave me the car)...with less air restriction, I'd likely have more performance!!

          And, not like I live where they do sniff tests on inspections....I've never lived where they do that..sounds like a PITA.

          If your car is like mine was, they wouldn't need to do sniff tests. They'd hear you coming. My catalytic converter was cut out of my 4Runner while in the parking lot at work. I left work at around 4pm, started it up, and nearly shit a brick. It was the loudest vehicle I'd ever heard, I thought it was broken, lol!

          Brought a friend out to listen while i started it, he's peering around, and says... "wtf, where's your cc?" Just a pile of metal shavings :)

          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            If your car is like mine was, they wouldn't need to do sniff tests. They'd hear you coming. My catalytic converter was cut out of my 4Runner while in the parking lot at work. I left work at around 4pm, started it up, and nearly shit a brick. It was the loudest vehicle I'd ever heard, I thought it was broken, lol!

            Well, I guess I was thinking ahead...and just figuring to weld in a straight pipe in its place.

            I guess a larger question of mine is..how do they manage to do this in public? I mean...someone in a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by clm1970 (1728766)
        Yep. I had an older but still running Toyota pickup. I sold it to a couple of guys who were taking it to Guatemala. Make them come to the bank first so they could certify the bills were not fake as they insisted on paying in cash. DA's office said no known scam going around like that but it was a little freaky to say the least.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:58PM (#38677468)

      Here in Texas, car theft is up because there is one type of vehicle highly sought after: Larger pickups, SUVs, and 4x4s in general. These are promptly taken to the border to smash through the excuse of a fence and to ferry weapons to Mexico, and narcotics/illegals back to the US. A good diesel 4x4 is prized down there because it can easily outrun police vehicles over the terrain. They also are taken to Mexico to be up-armored.

      The trick I do with keeping the vehicle from being "borrowed" is the classic kill switch. However, I use two. One is for the fuel pump, the other one turns on and off the RFID antenna. This way, someone trying to clone a PATS key might get my key's serial number, but when they try to jam a clone in the vehicle, it will just give them the middle finger.

    • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @05:49PM (#38678666) Homepage

      Here in Canada, auto theft is roughly the same. Most cars aren't chopped and sold. Anything from '09-99, they're devinned, and resold with a remarked vin from a wreck. Strip-vinning has long since gone out of style because it's a hassle, every part on cars made in the last 5 years or so has the VIN on it. From the windows, and bumpers, to the air and A/C compressor, down to the taillamp and wiring harness. So it did it's job. Their favorite targets are mostly cars/trucks/suv's in the '02-08 range where VINs were only stamped on engine/body frames. And where salvages are easy to find. So fair warning, see a deal, get it checked. And double check that dash VIN against the body, frame and engine. Otherwise, your vehicle is forfeit nearly everywhere to the owner, and you're out your money.

      The new thing is to simply either pull up and drive away with the vehicle using a stolen tow, or they pay a tow driver on the side to dump a vehicle somewhere. And then strip out the computer and replace it with a new one along with a new keyset. These are then sold overseas, mostly in russia, china and the middle east.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:39PM (#38677158)

    It's not clear to me why the CD player should even be on the same network as the engine-related microcontrollers.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:45PM (#38677262)

      Sometimes the electronics to control certain parts of the car are in the stereo to keep you from upgrading the stereo. Ford, for example, uses strange oval shapes to keep you from replacing their crappy stereo. Chevrolet in the case of my old Monte Carlo put the door chime and some of the interior light controls in the stereo. The work-around Best Buy did in my car was to move the original stereo to the glove compartment and leave it connected to everything but the speakers. In my wife's Lexus, the car wouldn't even start without the radio. I gave-up on upgrade the stereo in it. Car makers these days go to great lengths to make sure you do not get good sound in your car and buy any upgrades from them.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:10PM (#38677616)

        You have a great point about Chevrolet. I install stereos for a living, and Corvettes have some very creative protections against replacing the stereos. GM really wants you to have to suffer with the absolutely horrible Bose stock stereo. GM uses non-standard line out voltages in the Corvette so you can't connect the head unit to a real amplifier. Also, they place the amplifiers in the door which doesn't leave you with enough room to put even a tiny Alpine amp in the door even if you ignore the air flow problems. A real amp will fit under the seat but only if you have one of the few Vettes without power seats. In addition they use proprietary thin woofers in the doors which, of course due to physics, sound horrible. The speakers are a weird and complicated size so you have to fabricate mounting brackets. Also the speakers are a nonstandard impedance so you can't drive them with a standard car amp. Even with all of that work, GM decides to take the door and key chimes away from you if you replace the headunit.

        What all of that means is if you want to upgrade or repair any single component, you must replace the entire system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          It's a vette, why does it even have a stereo?

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:25PM (#38677774) Homepage

          Really? I seem to find it different.

          Just helped a friend with his 2010 Vette 2 months ago, dingy thingy replacements are available at scosche for less than $25.00 so all your chimes are retained. Steering wheel controls are also easily adapted with a $79.00 box.

          speaker upgrades are worthless as the Vette with premium sound that has the amps on the backs of the speakers sound better than any of the aftermarket stuff, speaker placement in the vette is crap anyways, $300 each drivers will not sound any better in that car, but it's easy to do with adapter plates from..... Scosche, that place again.

          as for a "real amp" almost nobody puts in a 10,000 watt Rockford Phosgate anymore. replace the head unit with the new kenwood stanav one, hooked into the existing wiring for the speakers and simply removed the speakers and disconnected the "premium sound" amps.

          All done. Anyone that has done car stereos in the past 2 years knows this, you dont have to " replace the entire system" not by a long shot.

        • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:35PM (#38677878)

          Wow, you are one of the worst 'stereo installers' I have ever fucking met.

          You do realize there is an interface kit for every GM vehicle on the planet that will make it 'normal' or 'industry standard', right? Give you standard line outs, standard speaker outs, will still make sure that you get all your interface sounds piped through your speakers like door chimes and warning bells, blinker clicks, ect ...

          Whats great is you're talking about them using weird speakers shapes in places where ... NORMAL SHAPES WON'T FIT.

          What all of this means is that you don't actually know what you're talking about.

          GM only has 2 or 3 interface busses for the dash electronics in their cars and there are interfaces for all of them. Get a clue about your job.

        • by kimvette (919543)

          Every marque with the BOSE system will have the same problem for line-out voltage and impedance issues. For those systems all you need is a line-out converter.

          Amplifier installation? Unless you're installing a monstrous amp, installing an amplifier in a Corvette is simple.

          Speaker installs? Okay, slightly more difficult, but no more difficult than any other sportscar.

          System sounds? Not a problem - multiple solutions exist for that. Just be glad the head unit in that car doesn't act as the hub for the CAN bus

      • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:31PM (#38677850)

        They aren't 'put in the stereo to intentionally make it harder' as you imply, but when you disconnect the stereo's internal bus, you do fuck up a portion of the cars' network.

        GM really doesn't give a fuck if you put in a different stereo after you bought the car ... YOU ALREADY PAID FOR THE STEREO IN THE CAR.

        Replacing the stereo is also rather trivial, you just need an interface kit that will interface your stereo with the cars data bus. These interface kits are well known (Best buy sells the damn things) and fit pretty much any car on the planet and make it work with any kind of stereo from old school analog systems to fully modernized systems with blutooth phone audio relays and text output to the display.

        Its not the car makers that don't know what they are doing in your case, its you and best buy.

    • by Ouchie (1386333)
      The reason why the Car Stereo is on the same network is because too many people were buying cars with no stereo or the basic stereo then going to after market shops where they could get a much better stereo for the same amount of money. Manufacturers decided that to reduce this they would just make the car stereo a required part for the whole system to work. It gives you a good reason to pay $1200 for the stereo upgrade which we know isn't worth $600.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:17PM (#38677700) Homepage

        nope.

        It's on the bus to listen for vehicle speed so the active volume can go up and down. Advanced one spit out channel and RDS data for the HUD. there is zero possibility to send out a "lock up the breaks" command from the car stereo into the CANBUS unless you rewrite the stereo's firmware first. and that is not gonna happen, There are a LOT of guys looking to hack GM and Ford satnav systems to get past the damn CANBUS VIN lock. They have had ZERO success in the past 5 years.

      • by godel_56 (1287256)

        The reason why the Car Stereo is on the same network is because too many people were buying cars with no stereo or the basic stereo then going to after market shops where they could get a much better stereo for the same amount of money. Manufacturers decided that to reduce this they would just make the car stereo a required part for the whole system to work. It gives you a good reason to pay $1200 for the stereo upgrade which we know isn't worth $600.

        Similar to printer manufacturers and ink jet cartridges.

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          Yay! Another computer analogy for cars. I love this thread, it's messing with some of the basic tenets of reality.
    • Well, it is usually on a different (layer 2) network, but usually there is a gateway routing messages between the two. Why? Because the CD player is embedded in the entertainment system, and that system displays information from the engine (e.g. current mileage), or you may be able to configure your engine via the entertainment system (like switching your engine and gearbox to "sport" mode). However, the gateway does not blindy route any message to any network, there is usually a fixed configuration which m

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Because that is how they implement the "Music gets louder, when the engine is turning more revs and making noise" feature.

      Consumers want wizbang features like stereo's that auto adjust volume, they don't care about security. They might not even really care about safety. Oh they'll demand safety "features" like 60 different airbags, but the idea that a software bug or interconnect problem introduced as a result of the needless complexity in some vehicles could cause their breaks to malfunction just is not

    • Because the CD player connects to the steering wheel controls which connects to the ECU to set cruise control for your drive by wire throttle plate.
    • by AJH16 (940784)

      Ironically, to try and keep your stereo from being stolen. Good stereos used to be stolen a lot so they started tieing them to the VIN which is supplied by the ECM. Unfortunately, they have now started figuring out ways to use that connection to hack in to the ECM. Oops..!

  • yo. (Score:4, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:40PM (#38677184) Homepage Journal

    So the other day I was on the bus and I saw this hot woman driving a car. I pulled out the iPhone, SSH'd into home and ran nmap on her license plate.

    LOL, stupid woman didn't notice her gas cap was left off from the last fill but nmap caught it. Used nc to push 'fire.jpg' into her tank and she blew up.

    True story, fucker.
  • by Riceballsan (816702) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:43PM (#38677230)
    In many many ways we've been opening more security holes in our cars as time progressed, the wireless unlockers. Even if we pretend that wireless isn't heaven to sniff and spoof. People leave their keys out in all sorts of public places, not everyone locks them up at the gym, most people leave them unattended at a waterpark or beach etc... before wireless that was reasonable, no-one is going to steal my keys because there are 500 cars in the parking lot, nobody can try each one. now with wireless, if you steal someones keys, you can just walk around the lot and push a button to make it beep and find out where the car is.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Yeah, this is what I came here to comment on... you can go to dealextreme and buy a couple of unlocking tools, and anyone can get it. Probably not too much harder to find more contemporary tools.

    • by AJH16 (940784)

      I never understood why they don't implement more secure wireless keyfobs, or maybe some do. It is easy to make it so wireless isn't heaven to sniff and spoof. Simply make a time driven rotating key based on a shared AES key. Make the lock and unlock code different and you effectively have a secure, spoof proof system. When I get out of my car, I only transmit lock so you can't unlock even during the available window that the code is good for. Similarly, when I return to my car, I'm in it for the period

  • by prichardson (603676) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:44PM (#38677242) Journal

    I seriously doubt this will have much effect on car thievery. A jimmy and hotwiring are things pretty much anyone can do. On the other hand, hacking a car's PC is not a skill generally held by people who have an actual desire to steal cars. I expect a few very expensive cars will be stolen via high-tech means, but I wouldn't expect this to cause a noticeable change on cat theft rates for non luxury cars.

    • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:50PM (#38677350) Journal
      I think you're (somewhat) wrong. Initially it won't mean much, but just like pre-packaged malware suites for credit card fraud (ZeuS being the biggest example) point-and-drool interfaces for car theft will be made eventually.
    • Even non luxury cars come with things like bluetooth nowadays. The attack vectors are present.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        no it's not.

        there is ZERO connection from the BT to the car's operational CANBUS.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          no it's not.

          there is ZERO connection from the BT to the car's operational CANBUS.

          when the entertainment unit is made integral part of the onboard computer systems then uh.. yeah, there is direct connection. why would a car company do that? well, two reasons: to make it more of a bitch to go with aftermarket 40 bucks radios so you'll have to buy their most expensive in car entertainment package when you buy the car and the second reason is simply cutting costs and reducing the number of cpu's on the car.

      • I'm not saying that the attack vector isn't present, I'm just saying it's not worth it. Someone with the skills to steal a car that way isn't going to bother to make $5000 (at most) selling a stolen car for parts when they could make that in a week at a legitimate job (that they can get with the skills required to steal said car in said fashion).

        Now, stealing a crazy-expensive car is another matter entirely.

        • by harl (84412)
          You're missing the point.

          They don't have to. Does every criminal have to take apart a car door and figure out how to make a slim jim before they can start stealing cars?

          One group will discover an exploit and make tools to automate the process. They will then spread them so people without skills to discover the exploit can exploit the exploit.

          I don't have the skills to break DVD encryption but I can get the tools to do it in 5 minutes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by heckler95 (1140369)
      The first guy to hack a car's PC needs to be skilled. Turn that into a black-market android app and all of a sudden the middle-school dropout who had trouble learning how to jimmy or hotwire can steal a car with the swipe of a touchscreen. It's just a matter of time.
      • Ignoring, for a moment, that most-if-not-all automotive computer systems are proprietary and thus will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, I think it's more an issue of funding. If cars cost what computers do, this issue would have come to a head years ago.

        Considering cost, it seems to me that hacking of automobile computer systems will, for now, be the exclusive domain of researcher organizations and vast criminal empires... to that end, imagine the havoc that could be wrought if, say, the Zeta's got
        • by Jeng (926980)

          to that end, imagine the havoc that could be wrought if, say, the Zeta's got a hold of one of ICE's Suburbans and managed to reverse engineer it's systems

          All though it would be handy for the Zeta's to be able to disable the ignition at will of an ICE Suburban, I think the greater threat would just be the Zeta's using a system to see where radio transmission are coming from.

          If ICE never sees the Zeta's then ICE will probably never know that the Zeta's have the capability, but if you knock out the ICE's vehicles they will react to that immediately and make sure that vector no longer works.

          Best defense, no be there.

        • Re:Wrong demographic (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phoenix321 (734987) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @05:38PM (#38678554)

          Remember Stuxnet.

          Covert assasination anyone?

          Implant a well-disguised piece of trojan code inside an ECU of opportunity.

          Have it triggered at a specific speed, at local nighttime. Disable brakes, lights, airbags and stomp on the accelerator. If any crash is detected, quickly recover the firmware to an original, untampered backup that was stored away somewhere beforehand.

          Crash investigators will find nothing but "reckless speeding" to be the cause.

  • by kav2k (1545689) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @03:45PM (#38677260)
    We need a car analogy here.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Sure its like if you had a car and left in a parking lot. Now suppose this car of yours had wireless unlock that did not use strong encryption, or any kinds of DH mutual authentication, rolling code, or time based scheme. Then suppose some guy with some relative simply radio equipment waited for you to unlock it. He can could then use a simply replay attack to unlock it and steal any shit you had in there.

      Does that help.

  • They already own the car.

    Dont worry about a thief stealing the car by using the CD player. All of these articles are pure FUD. they cant do a "Shadowrun" style unlock and start from standing outside the car and using their Uber haxor toolkit.

  • by Massacrifice (249974) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:20PM (#38677720)

    They have a movie about his. If you havent seen it, rent/download Ghost Dog : The way of the samurai. One of my best. Main guy steals Lexus with electro device he built himself.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0165798/ [imdb.com]

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:50PM (#38678032)

    To reboot the car trun key to off (soft switch)

    If that does not work open hood and unhook battery

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      If that does not work open hood and unhook battery

      Then drive to the dealership so they can reset your stereo/satnav

  • Get ready to say good buy to any non dealer car repair place. And if they want to be real dicks about dealer oil changes at 3000 miles.

  • by El_Oscuro (1022477) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:39PM (#38680386) Homepage
    After my father's 1963 Chevy was stolen, he installed a car kill switch kit [amazon.com]. You can get them for modern cars too. Since you put the switch where ever you want, it would take a thief time to find it, and they won't be bothered. You can sometimes get a lower insurance rate too.
    • by jackbird (721605)

      Ah, yes, the joy of puzzled phone calls from mechanics who you forgot to tell (or who didn't remember) that the car won't start without the rear defroster turned on.

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