Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Hat cybersecurity conference is being held this year as a virtual event. One of its participants were researchers from the Sky-Go Team, the car-hacking division of Qihoo 360. During their research, they discovered 19 vulnerabilities in one of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars, the exploitation of which allowed access to the car’s computer systems for remote engine start and door opening.
Most modern cars are equipped with computer systems that allow you to connect to the Internet. Thanks to this, passengers have access to navigation and map services, entertainment, radio stations, etc. Despite the apparent convenience, the Internet connection in the car increases the risk of remote attacks, as demonstrated by researchers from the Sky-Go Team.
During a speech at the conference, the head of the Sky-Go Team, Minrui Yan, said that his employees had identified 19 vulnerabilities in the computer system of one of Mercedes cars. By the time Yang spoke, the vulnerabilities that affected up to two million connected Mercedes vehicles in China alone had already been fixed. Katharina Becker, spokeswoman for Daimler, the parent company for Mercedes, confirmed that the research work had been presented to the automaker prior to its public announcement and that by that time the problems had been resolved in all of the company’s vehicles available on the market.
For more than a year, Sky-Go Team specialists have been working on searching for vulnerabilities that allowed a series of successful attacks on the computer system of a Mercedes car. At the initial stage, individual components of the car were tested on a special stand. The results were later tested on one of the E-Class vehicles. The study is based on the electronic control unit (TCU), which, according to the researchers, is one of the important elements of the car, since it connects to the Internet. By gaining access to the TCU file system, the researchers were able to remotely perform various actions, including opening doors and starting the car’s engine.
It is noted that the Mercedes car was well protected and its computer system could withstand a number of attacks, but it was not perfect.
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