Big truck hijacking vulnerability should be a wake-up call to trucking industry

big rig trucks vulnerable to hacking tractor trailer head
Big trucks are more vulnerable to hacking than cars. In preparation for the Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT ’16) security event in Austin, Texas, next week, researchers from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute hacked multiple systems in a big rig truck to demonstrate its vulnerability, according to Wired.

In 2015, another team demonstrated taking over a Jeep Cherokee remotely via the vehicle’s Uconnect cell-based system. That remote hijack sent a loud wake-up call to the consumer car world. Hijacking trucks and buses may be even easier. Individual automakers and car models from the same manufacturer use different codes, but most commercial trucks — from tractor trailers and school buses to garbage trucks and cement mixers — use the same communication standard. Once you know how to hijack one big truck, you can use the same codes with most others.

“These trucks carry hazard chemicals and large loads. And they’re the backbone of our economy,” researcher Bill Hass said. “If you can cause them to have unintended acceleration … I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out how many bad things could happen with this.”

The team created several videos showing how they took control of various systems in a truck and a school bus. The researchers interfered with braking systems, took control of engine RPMs, and sent faulty readings to dashboard indicators.

The common link between the vehicles was the J1939 open standard used by the on-board diagnostic systems (OBDS). The Michigan team used a laptop while sitting in the vehicles to access the vehicles’ system via the diagnostic port for this demonstration project, not via a wireless connection, but the point was made.

Heavy trucks, just like consumer vehicles, increasingly connect to the outside world via cell-phone and other systems. Breaking through to the OBDS via remote wireless remains a further step, but according to Wired, another study found trucks vulnerable to remote attack via an insecure location-tracking dongle.

WOOT ’16, which takes place during the Usenix Security Symposium, August 10-12, is a two-day workshop of presentations on cryptographic attacks, mobile threats, evading malware detection, creative denial of service, vehicle hacking, and other security threats and issues, to bring them to the attention of affected industries and security firms that serve them.

Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.

The end of 'ownership' in the new digital era

Mobile technology is finally advancing out of the standard form we've become used to. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is one example of further innovation and possibly a redesign of how we communicate and interact with our devices. Will 5G…

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.

The 2018 iPad is often the best iPad for most people — and now it’s only $250

Apple may have recently taken the wraps off of a new iPad Air and iPad Mini, but it's still the standard iPad that is best for most people. Now, the standard iPad has gotten a pretty significant discount -- it's down from $330 to $250.

USB4 will be the fastest and most uniform USB standard yet

USB4 is on the horizon and alongside a massive boost in speed it's also unifying with the Thunderbolt 3 standard to help finally create a singular wired connection protocol that all devices can enjoy.

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!