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A new research discovered critical vulnerabilities in several BMW car models. Researchers from Keen Security Lab, a cybersecurity research unit of Chinese company Tencent, have conducted an in-depth analysis of various systems present in BMW cars and discovered 14 locally and remotely exploitable vulnerabilities. Keen Security Lab focused on the head unit, the telematics control unit (TCU or T-Box), and the central gateway module in several BMW models. The experts tested various systems that critically influence the vehicle functioning and security, supplying just another proof of the importance of autonomous cars security.

The research raises high interest in the car industry, as much of the information in it has not been published yet in order to avoid malicious use of the vulnerabilities before they are patched. The full results will be published only in the beginning of 2019, according to

Karmaba Security specializes in car cybersecurity and prevention of malicious access to these vehicles’ smart systems. According to Assaf Harel, the company’s Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, “The vulnerabilities identified enable the assailant a remote control over the operating system of the vehicle, the electronic control unit (ECU), and from that stage, he is able to do gain control over a whole vehicle fleet.

“The defense and information security approach that applies solutions incorporating updates for identifying attacks is obsolete and not efficient regarding the security of the vehicle’s activities during the ride.

“In real time, these systems will not be reliable, as securing one part of the smart vehicle system will not guarantee the same level of security for another part. This is the reason why our security focuses on the manufacturer’s specific definitions regarding each model of the car, so we are able to supply a complete peripheral defense that sees the vehicle as a whole and not just a system in it.

“Another clear conclusion drawn from the research, so far, emphasizes our claim that in fact, there is no efficient way to secure the gateway because the information has to stream among the vehicle’s systems. Using ‘intermediary’/third-party solutions will only expose the systems to more vulnerabilities.

“The vehicle systems’ interfaces vis a vis external interfaces, such as battery charging, diagnosis and testing services, autonomous parking etc. require a wide array of communication channels. Securing each and every one of the will harm the vehicle’s performances.

He concluded that with the company’s innovative technology, “the autonomous security adjusts itself to the clear definitions of the car and its technological interfaces without harming performances. This is achieved by controlling one main channel, that includes all the basic definitions so that the vehicle remains secure and free from any external hostile influence.”