Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Car Theft by Antenna

According to new research to be presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium next month in San Diego, California, car thieves of the future might be able to get into a car and drive away without forced entry and without needing a physical key.

Researchers successfully attacked eight car manufacturers' passive keyless entry and start systems—wireless key fobs that open a car's doors and start the engine by proximity alone. Because a car won't open or start if the signal from its key takes too long to arrive, the researchers devised a way to speed communication between their their antennas. They were able to keep the signals in analog format, which reduced their delay from microseconds to nanoseconds, making their attack more difficult to detect.

David Wagner,professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied the cryptographic systems used in keyless entry systems, says the research "should help car manufacturers improve auto security systems in the future." Wagner doesn't think the research ought to make car owners anxious. "There are probably easier ways to steal cars," he says. But, he adds, a "nasty aspect of high-tech car theft" is that "it doesn't leave any sign of forced entry," so if a thief did use this method to steal a car, he says, it might be hard for police and insurance companies to get sufficient evidence of what happened. Wagner believes that manufacturers, police, and insurance companies all need to prepare for this eventuality.

See full article in Technology Review, published by MIT.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Commerce announces new shop to oversee online security

NextGov.com's article "Commerce announces new shop to oversee online security" covers Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's announcement that

The Obama administration is creating an office that will coordinate with the private sector to establish a secure pathway for people, organizations and computer programs to execute online transactions...

Locke spoke at an industry forum sponsored by many groups, including TRUST.