DigiCert Blog

DEF CON 23 Recap

This year’s DEF CON illustrated vulnerabilities in smart automobiles, encouraging IoT manufacturers to make security a top priority.

Over the weekend, thousands of hackers and other people in the security industry gathered in Vegas for DEF CON 23. DEF CON is one of the biggest annual hacker conferences and has a big influence in the development of security practices. This year’s conference was no different—and the hacks that were demonstrated this year had a special focus on the emerging technology of smart automobiles. The car hacks revealed will push auto manufacturers to close the security gaps and resolve vulnerabilities in this emerging market. Here are some of the main hacks that had people talking this year:

The $30 Lock-hacking Device

This device is probably the most talked about thing from DefCon last weekend. Security expert Samy Kamkar revealed his newest invention, a tiny device called the Rolljam. The Rolljam is capable of breaking into just about any keyless car lock and modern garage door openers as well. Although this hack has been widely known for some time, Kamkar’s device makes it ridiculously simple and all for $32 dollars.

Tesla Model S Hack Reveal

Researchers Kevin Mahaffey and Marc Rogers chose the Tesla Model S because they believe it to be an archetype of all the smart cars in the future. Overall, Mahaffey and Rogers found the Tesla to be very well secured and most of their presentation was discussing how their hacking attempts failed. But finally they found vulnerabilities that led them to gain access to power off the car, start the car, control headlights, control internal lights, and to change suspension, among several other things. Tesla has since fixed these vulnerabilities, but these researchers revealed that even the most advanced security can be hacked.

GPS System Hacking Demonstration

A team of researchers, led by Lin Huang, from the Chinese Internet security firm Qihoo presented the tech that her team used to hack a Tesla Model S in 2014. Huang’s GPS emulator is not the first, but her team has created a less expensive emulator. These emulators can falsely alter the location of smartphones and navigation systems in cars—and if used maliciously, these hacks can cause massive damage.

As DEF CON showed, even the most secure IoT devices can still be hacked. As manufacturers dive deeper in the development of smart automobiles, security should come as a priority and not an after thought. Securing IoT is technology’s next big feat. Visit this page to find out how you can secure your IoT devices today.

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About Ashley Call

Ashley is a freelance writer and editor with interests in many fields including emerging technologies, global Internet security, and the philosophical future of the Internet Age.