The Car Hacker’s Handbook, is currently available now in both paperback and e-book editions from No Starch Press. This book is for traditional mechanics who want to get into the electronic aspects of cars but have been stymied by the lack of information about this aspect and the taboo around it.”
The Car Hacker’s Handbook is a comprehensive guide to reverse-engineering and understanding the digital control systems in a modern vehicle. The book includes information on building your own test beds for analyzing the software in a vehicle’s control computers as well as background information on the vulnerabilities inherent in infotainment and two-way connectivity systems. A practical how-to guide for understanding and manipulating the software that controls virtually every function of a modern car.
When you read The Car Hacker’s Handbook, the first thing that comes to mind is trouble. Malicious individuals could use the information and techniques described in this book to take control of people’s automobiles and use that control to demand ransoms, cause accidents, or even commit terrorism. Yet as previous researchers and hackers have shown, the potential for trouble is very real.
The average new car now carries about 100 million lines of software code. All that code is required to operate various systems throughout the vehicle, including engine and transmission management, traction and stability controls, and more. About 20 million lines of code are required just to run a standard navigation, infotainment, and connectivity system, and that’s one of the biggest areas of vulnerability.
Researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller successfully hacked several cars through their data communications modules and in some cases managed to take substantial control of moving vehicles. Valasek and Miller’s exploits raised concerns about inadequate security provisions throughout the automotive industry, and prompted automakers to tighten up their safeguards.
Smith’s book exposes the tools and techniques that researchers use to identify and then exploit weaknesses in production cars. Starting with the CAN bus that most modern cars use as an on board network, Smith takes the reader through the steps necessary to access the engine management system as well as the infotainment and communications systems. The book also covers how to write exploits and transfer them into a vehicle via the vehicle’s wireless connectivity systems.
The information in this book is controversial, but not truly threatening. Malefactors who want to steal your car aren’t likely to spend months decoding assembly language programming to take control of your anti-lock braking system – they’d rather jump you at a stoplight.
This book is a wake-up call to automakers, legislators, and regulators, announcing the fact that technology enthusiasts/hackers can and will continue to fiddle with their cars.