A security flaw that could affect millions of cars has been identified, with researchers warning that there may be no fix available to protect susceptible vehicles. The exploit works by overloading the so-called CAN, or “car device network”, which connects all of the different aspects of modern vehicles together. With the right code, essential parts of the car’s safety features – such as the airbags or antilock brakes – could be forced offline.
The CAN was adopted as a standard for road vehicles by the ISO back in 1993, though it was developed back in 1983 by Bosch. It’s effectively the nervous system through which different components and technologies in the car communicate, spanning everything from comfort and convenience features like the HVAC system and infotainment, through to vital tech like the engine control module and the power steering.