Daily Management Review

DEF CON Hosts Auto-Makers And Cybersecurity Enthusiasts


White hat hackers help auto manufacturers to discover new security related issues in traditional architectural setting.

“DEF CON security convention”, that took place in Las Vegas, saw hackers who try to pick locks and find out “cyber vulnerabilities in a makeshift hospital” looking into the ways of controlling “units of cars” so as to take over their “driving functions”.
The said event was sponsored by auto-manufacturers and auto-suppliers, as they have “increasingly” realised the requirement of collaborating with “so-called white hat hackers”, in other words “cyber experts” specialising in locating cyber “vulnerabilities” which can help organisations to strengthen their security in turn.
The attendees tried their hand in deciphering a vehicle code for opening its trunk, controlling its speed as well as radio volume besides also taking over its doors locking function. Bugcrowd recruits researchers for “bug bounty programs at Tesla Inc”, “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles” besides other auto manufacturers, whereby its Senior Community Manager, Sam Houston said:
“A big part of it is redefining the term ‘hacker’ away from that of a criminal to make automakers understand that we’re here to make their systems more secure”.
This year the “car hacking village” was sponsored by auto-manifacturers Volkswagen, and Fiat Chrysler along with “suppliers” like Aptiv PLC and NXP Semiconductors. Las Vegas with its “sprawling resorts and casinos”, annually hosts “tens of thousands of cybersecurity enthusiasts” for the “DEF CON” as well as the “preceding corporate Black Hat conference”.
A majority of male participants’ names are protected even during registration to maintain privacy, while all the payments for the meet takes place in cash so that the attendees can get “a blinking badge featuring an exposed circuit board that allows them to complete tasks”.
It is a rare opportunity for the interested ones who intend on learning about car hacking which has become a “resource-intense research field” that needs “specialized knowledge and lots of preparation”. Craig Smith and Robert Leale are the founders of “hacking village” which started in the year of 2015, while the former stated:
“Automotive provides a great challenge because the systems are distinct from other security areas”.
 According to both the founders there has been a “steady annual growth in participants”. The modern auto technologies and its features are yet another reason for attracting “security professionals from other research areas”, claimed Grimm’s Senior Researcher, Aaron Cornelius.
In the words of Karamba Security’s Chief Scientist, Assaf Harel:
“Carmakers have been discovering new issues with their traditional architectures thanks to white hat hackers, which highlighted security needs for carmakers and suppliers alike”.