A major security flaw in more than 100 car models has been exposed in an academic paper that was suppressed by a major manufacturer for two years.
Flavio Garcia, a computer scientist at the University of Birmingham, and two colleagues from a Dutch university were unable to release the paper afterVolkswagen won a case in the high court to ban its publication.
The research team discovered car manufacturers including Audi, Citroën, Fiat, Honda and Volvo, as well as Volkswagen, had models that were vulnerable to “keyless theft” because a device designed to prevent the vehicles from being stolen could be disabled easily.
After years of formal and informal negotiations, Volkswagen has agreed to thepublication of the paper after accepting the authors’ proposal to remove one sentence from the original manuscript.
Garcia and his colleagues Roel Verdult and Bariş Ege, from Radboud University in Nijmegen, said they found several weaknesses in the Swiss-made immobiliser system, called Megamos Crypto. The device works by preventing the engine from starting when the corresponding transponder – embedded in the key – is not present.
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