Argus Working to Promote Public Safety & Mitigate Car Hacking

Argus Cyber Security researchers found vulnerabilities in the Bosch Drivelog Connector dongle and in its authentication process with the Drivelog Connect smartphone application which enabled the researchers to take control of a car via Bluetooth.

Following a responsible disclosure made by Argus to Bosch, their Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) took decisive and immediate action to address the vulnerabilities.

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The Argus research group succeeded in remotely taking over safety-critical vehicle systems via a Bosch Drivelog Connector dongle installed in the vehicle.

A vulnerability found in the authentication process between the dongle and the Drivelog Connect smartphone application enabled Argus researchers to uncover the security code within minutes and communicate with the dongle from a standard Bluetooth device, such as a smartphone or laptop.

After gaining access to the communications channel, Argus researchers were able to duplicate the message command structure and inject malicious messages into the in-vehicle network.

Effectively bypassing the secure message filter that was designed to allow only specific messages, these vulnerabilities enabled the Argus research group to take control of a moving car, demonstrated through remotely stopping the engine.

A full technical account of the attack is posted on Argus’ blog, by Alexei Kovelman.

Yaron Galula, Argus CTO and Co-Founder
Yaron Galula, Argus CTO and Co-Founder

“At our core, Argus is dedicated to ensuring that vehicles are cyber-safe and our ongoing collaboration with global Tier 1 suppliers and car manufacturers enables us to provide the most advanced cyber security solutions for the automotive industry,” said Yaron Galula, Argus CTO and Co-Founder.

“The Bosch discovery demonstrates that solutions based on cryptography, even when designed by leaders in the industry, are not foolproof and that multi-layered defenses are required to effectively protect vehicles from cyber threats.”

As soon as Argus found cyber security vulnerabilities in the Bosch Drivelog Connector dongle, Bosch was duly informed.

The level of attention the matter received from Bosch top management was significant and their Product Security Incident Response Team worked quickly to immediately address the issues across their security and development divisions.

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Bosch expressed its gratitude to the Argus team for the responsible disclosure of these vulnerabilities and their help throughout the process.

Thorsten Kuhles, head of the Bosch Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT)
Thorsten Kuhles, head of the Bosch Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT)

“Bosch takes security very seriously. When Argus informed us about the security gaps, we took immediate action to verify and fix the issues,” said Thorsten Kuhles, head of the Bosch Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT).

Only a short time after being notified Bosch has already implemented an initial fix.

It is important to note that scalability of a potential malicious attack is limited by the fact that such an attack requires physical proximity to the dongle. This means that the attacking device needs to be within Bluetooth range of the vehicle.

Furthermore, an initial attack requires brute forcing the PIN for a given dongle and sending a malicious CAN message that fits the constraints of the dongle and the vehicle.

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“To further increase security a patch that fixes the underlying weaknesses in the encryption protocol will be available shortly. This patch will prevent the kind of attack as described by Argus,” Kuhles adds.

Additional work is also being done to further limit the possibility to send unwanted CAN messages and will be rolled out alongside further improvements later in the year.

For more information please refer to the Bosch Security Advisory.

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