Defcon presenters preview hack that takes Prius out of driver’s control

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This one’s a treasure trove of CAN bus hacks that will scare the crap out of an unsuspecting driver — or worse. [Charlie Miller] and [Chris Valasek] are getting ready to present their findings, which were underwritten by DARPA, at this year’s Defcon. They gave a Forbes reporter a turn in the driver’s seat in order to show off.

You’ve got to see the video on this one. We haven’t had this much fun looking at potentially deadly car hacking since Waterloo Labs decided to go surfing on an Olds. The hacks shown off start as seemingly innocent data tweaks, like misrepresenting your fuel level or displaying 199 mph on the speedometer while the car is standing still. But things start to get interesting when they take that speed readout from 199 down to zero instantly, which has the effect of telling the car you’ve been in a crash (don’t worry, the airbags don’t fire). Other devilish tricks include yanking the steering wheel to one side by issuing a command telling the car to park itself when driving down the road. Worst of all is the ability to disable the brakes while the vehicle is in motion. Oh the pedal still moves, but the brake calipers don’t respond.

The purpose of the work is to highlight areas where auto manufacturers need to tighten up security. It certainly gives us an idea of what we’ll see in the next Bond film.

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[Jason Scott] throws down a preview of his DEFCON documentary

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Let’s face it, we all love DEFCON. Even if you’ve never been there before, we think it would be a huge struggle to find a reader who hadn’t been enchanted by at least one of the many hacks and talks that come out of the conference every year. We’ll prove it to you in a second, but first let’s get to the business at hand. Internet historian and all around good-guy [Jason Scott] has set his documentarian skills on DEFCON and just published a nearly twenty minute preview of the film which will leave you with more questions than answers (that’s the point of a teaser, right?). He’s not new to this kind of work. We loved his film BBS: The Documentary and can’t wait to see what he’s managed to do when this is released in the new year.

Oh yeah… we were going to prove a point. Some things that came out of the yearly hacker conference which you probably drooled over after the fact include:

This is just a sliver of what this event offers. Should be fun to see all the stuff [Jason] got into that we never even knew about.

DEFCON 20 Tamper Evident contest signup

DEFCON 20 is on its way and if you want to put a team together to compete in the Tamper Evident competition now is the time! The idea of the contest is simple: your team needs to break into something without anyone every knowing. The payload is protected by the best of modern tamper evident techniques. One of the things we really like about the competition is that there are multiple levels so if it’s your first time you DO stand a chance. The number of teams accepted is limited, so don’t wait too long and miss your chance to register.

There’s a ton to be learned from the contest RULES. But perhaps a better primer is going to be [Datagram's] fifty-two minute talk which we’ve embedded after the break. He was one of the winners of all four contest levels at DEFCON 19 last year.

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The Scariest Hacks from Black Hat and Defcon

Although [HAD] is generally all about legal hacking, this list of demonstrated hacks could be used for the dark side as well. Hopefully by demonstrating hacks like this, most people can be more aware of how they use their information. Computer security experts also have a chance to hone their skills and see where potential vulnerabilities lie.

Some of the highlights from this article include hacking a Siemens S7 PLC, which can be used for factory automation, a “hacker drone” that we’ve featured before, and a method to deduce someone’s social security number from personal photos on social networking sites.  Also scary is a method to shut down certain personal insulin pumps.  Although serious in itself, one would hope that other life preserving devices would be adequately protected against intrusion.

One hack that seems like it could have interesting uses in the legal-hacking world is the idea of VoIP botnet control. Although “botnet control” obviously implies illegal use, controlling a computer with voice or touchtones can and does have many legal uses.

Defcon 19 Call for Workshops

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The crew at Defcon is hard at work getting things ready for this year’s event, taking place over the first weekend in August. While the typical call for papers has been out for almost two months now, the extra space afforded by the RIO hotel has given the organizers a chance to shake things up a bit and try something new.

Along side the call for papers, they have issued a call for workshops. Since they have about 8 spare rooms on hand, they have decided to allow people who consider themselves a leader, ‘leet hacker, or ninja in their particular field to share their knowledge in a small (30 person) workshop setting.

The organizers are not strict on content, though it should be compelling. They cite examples such as teaching people to build an impenetrable Linux installation, PS3 hacking, or even helping people prep for a Ham radio license exam.

If you have something interesting to share with the community, be sure to swing by the Defcon site and get your application started!

A look back at DefCon 18 badges

As he does every year, [Joe Grand] gave a talk explaining the development process for Defcon 18 badges. We looked in on these when details started trickling out back in July. They feature a neat bit of tech in the form of an LCD that acts much like ePaper. It doesn’t take any electricity to hold the image, only to change the display. This is a valuable feature for a battery powered device and allowed him to get about 9 days of juice out of a CR2032. This year’s badges also used laser-etched Aluminum as a substrate.

We’ve embedded the talk after the break and found it interesting enough to watch the entire hour. If you’re more interested in the hacks that came out of the badge, we’ve put together a playlist of videos [Joe] took while at the conference.

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DefCon 18 Official Badges

The details are out for the DefCon 18 badges. The new design has a lot of goodies packed into it, most notably a 128×32 LCD display. You can’t see it in the image above because it’s on the other side of the badge; the ribbon cable passes through a slit in the substrate to reach the connector on the back. The board has a mini-USB connector and is meant to get even the unseasoned novice up and running with some firmware tweaks. The Freescale processor (which is the same chip as last year’s badge) is running a bootloader that can be accessed and flashed using a terminal program. Yeah… impressive.

But it doesn’t stop with the component selection or firmware mastery, these badges are beautiful too. What you see above is the prototype, but the 7780 badges produced come in seven different flavors (as usual), laser etched on a PCB that uses Aluminum as the substrate. Line up all the badges side-to-side and you get a graphic art storyboard. [Joe] outdid himself this year, and he’s been nice enough to share the development details (PDF) which we spent way too much time drooling over.

[Thanks Kim]