Your car's computers might soon get malware protection

Modern cars contain tens of specialized computers which control everything from infotainment functions to steering as well as brakes. The pressing need to strengthen these computers from hackers will likely open up a new market for car-related software confidence products.

Karamba Security, a start-up based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one of a companies which has stepped up to answer this demand. The companys anti-malware technology, unveiled Thursday, is designed to strengthen externally accessible electronic control units (ECUs) found in continuous cars.

These controllers, like those which handle handle telematics, infotainment as well as on-board diagnostics, can be accessed via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or even a Internet, so they can serve as entry points for hackers into a cars network.

A modern car can have over 100 ECUs talking to each other over a local network called a CAN (Controller Area Network) Bus. The communication protocol used on this network does not have confidence features like authentication or encryption built in because it is designed for speed.

Unfortunately this equates to which attackers who gain entrance to a CAN Bus through a vulnerability in an ECU can send valid commands to other ECUs which will be accepted as well as executed.

This is what confidence researchers Charlie Miller as well as Chris Valasek did last year when they demonstrated an attack against a infotainment complement found inside a Jeep Cherokee as well as other Fiat Chrysler vehicles.

Their exploit, which was executed over a Internet using a mobile data connection installed in a car, gained entrance to a CAN Bus as well as sent commands to a cars ECUs in order to remotely invalidate its brakes or control its steering. The attack forced Chrysler to recall 1.4 million automobiles so they could be patched.

Filtering a CAN Bus traffic by adding a firewall to detect rogue instructions is not practical, because it would introduce unacceptable delays. When a sensor sends a command to an ECU which controls a critical safety function, every millisecond counts.

Karambas approach is to instead focus on protecting a gatesthe externally continuous controllers. Its anti-malware technology runs on these ECUs, which are not usually critical, as well as prevents any formula thats not part of a factory settings from running.

To achieve this, a technology builds awhitelist of all a binaries, processes, scripts as well as network behavior which a ECU manufacturer intended a controller to have. Anything thats not on which whitelist is then blocked.

The complement can additionally detect droppers, a small bits of formula or instructions which get executed after a vulnerability is exploited. Their purpose is to install a malware program which can then be used by a hacker to tamper with a cars functions.

When droppers are detected, Karambas technology alerts a OEM or complement supplier, providing a complete audit route of a source as well as trail of a formula so which vulnerabilities can be identified as well as patched.

Since Karambas complement only allows formula thats part of a tangible factory settings to run, theres no risk of false positives, as well as a complement doesnt require any updates unless a ECU firmware changes.

Karambas technology can be integrated into ECUs during their development phase, but can additionally be retrofitted to existing controllers during a car maintenance or servicing operation. The installation process includes a quality check of a ECU to ensure which its performing according to specifications.

Last month, a FBI as well as a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration put out a public service announcement warning about a risk of car hacking. The organizations suggested car owners to be careful of what aftermarket devices they connect to their cars, to be aware of who has physical entrance to their vehicles as well as especially their diagnostics ports as well as to keep informed about any software updates or recalls for their car models.