At World Cybersecurity meet DEFCON, a teen from Mumbai exhibits a car hack

What if you discovered that it was feasible to unlock your car and start the engine even without your knowledge?

It may sound mind-blowing, but 30,000 cybersecurity experts from around the world witnessed a 20-year-old resident teach them how to hack a 2018 Honda Civic using a laughably simple technique. One of the two researchers who wrote a study that was published in March and demonstrated how hackable Honda vehicles is Ayyappan Rajesh. By intercepting and copying the signals that the key fob provides to the vehicle, this is made possible. The ethical hacker and cybersecurity expert attended DEFCON, an annual conference that the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth just held in Nevada, Las Vegas.

“At DEFCON, I presented my findings and ran a vehicle hacking village demonstration where anyone could get into a 2018 Honda Civic using a “flipper,” a specially-made tool. It was well-received, and I had the opportunity to reveal the hack to none other than Chris Inglis, US President Joe Biden’s cybersecurity advisor,” Rajesh stated.

In relation to the Honda vulnerability, he continued, “There are tools available for around $200 that a 10-year-old with little to no technical understanding might use to exploit the flaw.” Forget about someone stealing your personal items; anyone with access to a certain port inside your car could take complete control of it. Researchers have been known to destroy even the engine of a moving car.

The international cybersecurity community has now formally assigned this vulnerability the common vulnerabilities and exploits number. Rajesh recalled how excited he was to meet cybersecurity greats like Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as civilian specialists he had long admired.

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