Threat Management, Malware, Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Luxury hackers crack Bimmers and Benzes, a tale of BMW’s bugs and Mercedes-Benz thugs

Hackers with a taste for some of the finer things in life found a host of vulnerabilities in multiple BMW vehicles while tech-savvy car thieves managed to hack into and steal a Mercedes-Benz in 23 seconds.

Keen Security researchers discovered 14 vulnerabilities in four BMW models, some of which could be exploited remotely, in order to compromise vehicle functions in the i3, X1, 525Li, and 730Li, according to the firm's Experimental Security Assessment of BMW Cars: A Summary report.

The flaws are in three interconnected modules: the car's “Infotainment System (a.k.a, Head Unit), Telematics Control Unit and Central Gateway Module.

Researchers demonstrated how an attacker could gain remote control of the CAN buses of a vulnerable BMW by utilizing a complex chain of several vulnerabilities in different vehicle components. Researchers were even able to compromise the Head Unit with physical tampering even without internet connectivity.

All the software vulnerabilities that were found can be fixed by online reconfiguration and offline firmware update and BMW is currently working on the mitigation plans to address all of the vulnerabilities, while some high priority countermeasures have already been addressed.

Many of the details concerning what exactly the exploits are, how they carried out, and what they enable have been withheld until BMW has mitigated all of the exploits however, researchers said more information will be released in 2019.

Natan Bandler, CEO, and co-founder of Cy-oT told SC Media that connected car vulnerabilities extend beyond the vehicle's central unit as most vehicle vulnerabilities can be found in the entertainment systems. In one of the most famous incidents of car hacking a zero-day in Fiat-Chrysler models which allowed the remote control of vehicles sparked a massive recall.

“If such sophisticated machines like cars, and in this case luxury, high-end cars - are exposed to such vulnerabilities, just think about the connected devices that cost a fraction of the price and how vulnerable they are to such attacks,” Bandler said. “Think about the video conference system in your office, your smart TV, your smart refrigerator or smart coffee machine.”

Bandler added that the innocent and seemingly invisible items that we tend to neglect are often the easiest places for threat actors to gain footing.

Although the full extent of the BMW attacks remains a mystery, a pair of car thieves in England managed to nab a Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan by using their own hacking skills to exploit a vulnerability in the Mercedes-Benz's keyless entry system.

On the morning of May 17, 2018, at 12:42 a.m., two men can be seen on video using tablet-like devices to grab the signal emitted from the vehicles locked car door that searches for another signal emitted from the owner's key fob that if detected, will unlock the door.

While one thief attempts to open the door emitting the first signal, the second thief can be seen scanning their device along the side of the victim's home presumably in search of car keys hung on the wall inside of the home.

Once the key fob signal is detected it is beamed off the device of the thief closest to the door simulating the owner, and their key fob's presence. The perpetrators can then be seen using the same trick to start the vehicle and drive off all in under half a minute.

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