Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lawsuit counterproductive for automotive industry

By Chris Valasek @nudehaberdasher

It came to my attention that there is a lawsuit attempting to seek damages against automakers revolving around their cars being hackable ( The lawsuit cites Dr. Charlie Miller’s and my work several times, along with several other researchers who have been involved in automotive security research. 

I’d like to be the first to say that I think this lawsuit is unfortunate and subverts the spirit of our research. Charlie and I approached our work with the end goals of determining if technologically advanced cars could be controlled with CAN messages and informing the public of our findings. Obviously, we found this to be true and were surprised at how much could be manipulated with network messages. We learned so much about automobiles, their communications, and their associated physical actions. 

Our intent was never to insinuate deliberate negligence on the part of the manufacturers. Instead, like most security researchers, we wanted to push the boundaries of what was thought to be possible and have fun doing it. While I do believe there is risk associated with vehicle connectivity, I think that a lawsuit can only be harmful as it has the potential to take funds away from what is really important:  securing the modern vehicle. I think any money automobile manufacturers must spend on legal fees would be more wisely spent on researching and developing automotive intrusion detection/prevention systems.

The automotive industry is not sitting idly by, but constantly working to improve the security of their past, present, and future vehicles. Security isn’t something that changes overnight, especially in the case of automobiles, which take even longer since there are both physical and software elements to be tested. Offensive security researchers will always be ahead of the people trying to formulate defenses, but that does not mean the defenders are not doing anything. 

While our goals were public awareness and industry change, we did not want change to stem from the possible exploitation of public fears. Our hope was that by showing what is possible, we could work with the people who make the products we use and love on an everyday basis to improve vehicle security. 

- cv

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life in the Fast Lane

By Chris Valasek @nudehaberdasher

Hi Internet Friends, 

Chris Valasek here. You may remember me from educational films such as “Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun”. If you have not heard, IOActive officially launched our Vehicle Security Service offering.

I’ve received several questions about the service and plan to answer them and many more during a webinar I am hosting on February 5, 2015 at 11 AM EST

Some of the main talking points include: 
  • Why dedicate an entire service offering to vehicles and transportation?
  • A brief history of vehicle security research and why it has been relatively scarce
  • Why we believe that protecting vehicles and their supporting systems is of the utmost importance
  • IOActive’s goals for our Vehicle Security Service offering
Additionally, I’ll make sure to save sufficient time for Q&A to field your questions. I’d love to get as many questions as possible, so don’t be shy. 
I look forward to you participation in the webinar on February 5, 2015 11 AM EST. 

- cv

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Die Laughing from a Billion Laughs

By Fernando Arnaboldi

Recursion is the process of repeating items in a self-similar way, and that’s what the XML Entity Expansion (XEE)[1] is about: a small string is referenced a huge number of times. 

Technology standards sometimes include features that affect the security of applications. Amit Klein found in 2002 that XML entities could be used to make parsers consume an unlimited amount of resources and then crash, which is called a billion laughs attack. When the XML parser tries to resolve, the external entities that are included cause the application to start consuming all the available memory until the process crashes. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ELF Parsing Bugs by Example with Melkor Fuzzer

By Alejandro Hernandez @nitr0usmx

(Extract from white paper at )

Too often the development community continues to blindly trust the metadata in Executable and Linking Format (ELF) files. In this paper, Alejandro Hernández walks you through the testing process for seven applications and reveals the bugs that he found. He performed the tests using Melkor, a file format fuzzer he wrote specifically for ELF files.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Crypto 101

By Yvan Janssens

This post is part of a series about bad cryptography usage . We all rely heavily on cryptographic algorithms for data confidentiality and integrity, and although most commonly used algorithms are secure, they need to be used carefully and correctly. Just as holding a hammer backwards won't yield the expected result, using cryptography badly won't yield the expected results either.

To refresh my Android skillset, I decided to take apart a few Android applications that offer to encrypt personal files and protect them from prying eyes. I headed off to the Google Play Store and downloaded the first free application it recommended to me. I decided to only consider free applications, since most end users would prefer a cheap (free) solution compared to a paid one.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vicious POODLE Finally Kills SSL

By Robert Zigweid

The poodle must be the most vicious dog, because it has killed SSL. 

POODLE is the latest in a rather lengthy string of vulnerabilities in SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and a more recent protocol, TLS (Transport layer Security). Both protocols secure data that is being sent between applications to prevent eavesdropping, tampering, and message forgery

POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption) rings the death knell for our 18-year-old friend SSL version 3.0 (SSLv3), because at this point, there is no truly safe way to continue using it.  

Google announced Tuesday that its researchers had discovered POODLE. The announcement came amid rumors about the researchers’ security advisory white paper which details the vulnerability, which was circulating internally.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Dirty Distillation of Proposed V2V Readiness

By Chris Valasek @nudehaberdasher

Good Afternoon Internet
Chris Valasek here. You may remember me from such automated information kiosks as "Welcome to Springfield Airport", and "Where's Nordstrom?" Ever since Dr. Charlie Miller and I began our car hacking adventures, we’ve been asked about the upcoming Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) initiative and haven’t had much to say because we only knew about the technology in the abstract. 
I finally decided to read the proposed documentation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) titled: “Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications: Readiness of V2V Technology for Application” ( This is my distillation of a very small portion of the 327-page document.