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Modern Automotive Vulnerabilities: Causes, Disclosures, And Outcomes

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Over the last six years, a range of research has transformed our understanding of automobiles. What we traditionally envisioned as mere mechanical conveyances are now more widely appreciated as complex distributed systems "with wheels." A car purchased today has virtually all aspects of its physical behavior mediated through dozens of microprocessors, themselves networked internally, and connected to a range of external digital channels. As a result, software vulnerabilities in automotive firmware potentially allow an adversary to obtain arbitrary control over the vehicle. Indeed, multiple research groups have been able to demonstrate such remote control of unmodified automobiles from a variety of manufacturers. In this talk, I'll highlight how our understanding of automotive security vulnerabilities has changed over time, how unique challenges in the automotive sector give rise to these problems, and how different approaches to disclosure have played a role in driving industry and government response.