Securing the in-vehicle network


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Radu, Andreea-Ina (2020). Securing the in-vehicle network. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Recent research into automotive security has shown that once a single electronic vehicle component is compromised, it is possible to take control of the vehicle. These components, called Electronic Control Units, are embedded systems which manage a significant part of the functionality of a modern car. They communicate with each other via the in-vehicle network, known as the Controller Area Network, which is the most widely used automotive bus.

In this thesis, we introduce a series of novel proposals to improve the security of both the Controller Area Network bus and the Electronic Control Units.

The Controller Area Network suffers from a number of shortfalls, one of which is the lack of source authentication. We propose a protocol that mitigates this fundamental shortcoming in the Controller Area Network bus design, and protects against a number of high profile media attacks that have been published. We derive a set of desirable security and compatibility properties which an authentication protocol for the Controller Area Network bus should possess. We evaluate our protocol, along with other proposed protocols in the literature, with respect to the defined properties. Our systematic analysis of the protocols allows the automotive industry to make an informed choice regarding the adoption suitability of these solutions.

However, it is not only the communication of Electronic Control Units that needs to be secure, but the firmware running on them as well. The growing number of Electronic Control Units in a vehicle, together with their increasing complexity, prompts the need for automated tools to test their security. Part of the challenge in designing such a tool is the diversity of Electronic Control Unit architectures. To this end, this thesis presents a methodology for extracting the Control Flow Graph from the Electronic Control Unit firmware. The Control Flow Graph is a platform independent representation of the firmware control flow, allowing us to abstract from the underlying architecture. We present a fuzzer for Electronic Control Unit firmware fuzz-testing via Controller Area Network. The extracted Control Flow Graph is tagged with static data used in instructions which influence the control flow of the firmware. It is then used to create a set of input seeds for the fuzzer, and in altering the inputs during the fuzzing process. This approach represents a step towards an efficient fuzzing methodology for Electronic Control Units. To our knowledge, this is the first proposal that uses static analysis to guide the fuzzing of Electronic Control Units.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Computer Science
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics


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