Researchers at Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina (USC) have found that wireless signals between new cars and their tires can be intercepted or forged. Although the security risk from this finding is minimal, it demonstrates a glaring weakness in secure software development in new cars, says USC professor Wenyuan Xu.
Tire pressure monitoring systems consist of battery-powered radio frequency identification tags on each tire, which can respond with the air pressure readings of the tire when wirelessly queried by an electronic control unit. The researchers found that each sensor has a unique 32-bit ID and that communication between the tag and the control unit was unencrypted, which allowed it to be intercepted from up to 40 meters away. "If the sensor IDs were captured at roadside tracking points and stored in databases, third parties could infer or prove that the driver has visited potentially sensitive locations such as medical clinics, political meetings, or nightclubs," the researchers say.
From Bloomberg Businessweek
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