Honda shuts down factory after finding NSA-derived Wcry in its networks

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The WCry ransomware worm has struck again, this time prompting Honda Company to halt production in one of its Japan-based factories after finding infections in a broad swath of its computer networks, according to media reports.

The automaker shut down its Sayama plant northwest of Tokyo on Monday after finding that WCry had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China, and other regions, Reuters reported Wednesday. Discovery of the infection came on Sunday, more than five weeks after the onset of the NSA-derived ransomware worm, which struck an estimated 727,000 computers in 90 countries. The mass outbreak was quickly contained through a major stroke of good luck. A security researcher largely acting out of curiosity registered a mysterious domain name contained in the WCry code that acted as a global kill switch that immediately halted the self-replicating attack.

Honda officials didn't explain why engineers found WCry in their networks 37 days after the kill switch was activated. One possibility is that engineers had mistakenly blocked access to the kill-switch domain. That would have caused the WCry exploit to proceed as normal, as it did in the 12 or so hours before the domain was registered. Another possibility is that the WCry traces in Honda's networks were old and dormant, and the shutdown of the Sayama plant was only a precautionary measure. In any event, the discovery strongly suggests that as of Monday, computers inside the Honda network had yet to install a highly critical patch that Microsoft released in March.

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Researchers wirelessly hit the brakes in a Model S, Tesla patches quickly

Researchers from Tencent's Keen Security Labs totally hack the Tesla S over Wi-Fi.

Security researchers at the Chinese Internet company Tencent's Keen Security Lab privately revealed a security bug in Tesla Model S cars that allowed an attacker to achieve remote access to a vehicle's Controller Area Network (CAN) and take over functions of the vehicle while parked or moving. The Keen researchers were able to remotely open the doors and trunk of an unmodified Model S, and they were also able to take control of its display. Perhaps most notably, the researchers remotely activated the brakes of a moving Model S wirelessly once the car had been breached by an attack on the car's built-in Web browser.

Tesla has already issued an over-the-air firmware patch to fix the situation.

Previous hacks of Tesla vehicles have required physical access to the car. The Keen attack exploited a bug in Tesla's Web browser, which required the vehicle to be connected to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot. This allowed the attackers to stage a "man-in-the-middle" attack, according to researchers. In a statement on the vulnerability, a Tesla spokesman said, "our realistic estimate is that the risk to our customers was very low, but this did not stop us from responding quickly." After Keen brought the vulnerability to Bugcrowd, the company managing Tesla's bug bounty program, it took just 10 days for Tesla to generate a fix.

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Almost every Volkswagen sold since 1995 can be unlocked with an Arduino

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Over at Wired, Andy Greenberg reports that security researchers have discovered how to use software defined radio (SDR) to remotely unlock hundreds of millions of cars. The findings are to be presented at a security conference later this week, and detail two different vulnerabilities.

The first affects almost every car Volkswagen has sold since 1995, with only the latest Golf-based models in the clear. Led by Flavio Garcia at the University of Birmingham in the UK, the group of hackers reverse-engineered an undisclosed Volkswagen component to extract a cryptographic key value that is common to many of the company's vehicles.

Alone, the value won't do anything, but when combined with the unique value encoded on an individual vehicle's remote key fob—obtained with a little electronic eavesdropping, say—you have a functional clone that will lock or unlock that car.

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Bug bounties and automotive firewalls: Dealing with the car hacker threat

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As we have seen in the past couple of years, car hacking is becoming an ever-greater threat. Many of the systems in our vehicles—and the standards to which they were designed—predate the connected car era. And so computerized vehicle systems lack some of the basic kinds of security that we would otherwise expect as default given the ramifications of a hack. The car-hacking problem gained widespread attention in July 2015, when hackers revealed that 1.4 million Chrysler and Dodge vehicles were vulnerable to an exploit—via the car's infotainment system—that could allow a malicious hacker to take over control of the vehicles' throttle, brakes, and even steering.

On Wednesday morning, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced it has created a bug bounty program, using Bugcrowd's platform to allow the security community to inform it about possible exploits.

"We want to encourage independent security researchers to reach out to us and share what they’ve found so that we can fix potential vulnerabilities before they’re an issue for our consumers," said Titus Melnyk, senior manager of security architecture at FCA. "Exposing or publicizing vulnerabilities for the singular purpose of grabbing headlines or fame does little to protect the consumer. Rather, we want to reward security researchers for the time and effort, which ultimately benefits us all."

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