CANtact

The average automobile today isn’t necessarily secured against hackers, so much as obscured from them: Digitally controlling a car’s electronics remains an arcane, specialized skill among security researchers. But that’s changing fast. And soon, it could take as little as $60 and a laptop to begin messing around with a car’s digital innards.

Tomorrow at the Black Hat Asia security conference in Singapore, 24-year-old Eric Evenchick plans to present a new device he calls the CANtact. The open source board, which he hopes to sell for between $60 and $100, connects on one end to a computer’s USB port, and on the other to a car or truck’s OBD2 port, a network port under its dashboard. That makes the CANtact a cheap interface between any PC and a vehicle’s controller area network or CAN bus, the collection of connected computers inside of every modern automobile that control everything from its windows to its brakes.

With just that go-between gadget and the open source software that Evenchick is releasing for free, he hopes to make car hacking a far cheaper and more automated process for amateurs. “I realized that there were no good tools for me to play around with this stuff outside of what the auto industry uses, and those are incredibly expensive,” Evenchick says, referring to products sold by companies like Vector that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. “I wanted to build a tool I can get out there, along with software to show that this stuff isn’t terribly complicated.”

CANtact

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