Channel 19

Todd Dills

Foiling the truckhackers, winning the triathlon

| October 14, 2011

What’s next, “Truckhacking?”
If this doesn’t lend new urgency to the technical standards FMCSA’s mulling for EOBRs, I don’t know what does.

Craig Trudell reported yesterday in Bloomberg BusinessWeek on a team of “carhacking” researchers out of the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington, who found during a study that they were able to take control of a car, manipulating all of its systems remotely via common hacker methodology. The point of entry, Trudell said on National Public Radio’s Here & Now program today, was the link between the driver’s cell phone and vehicle computers.

Anybody got their cell wirelessly linked to the truck’s sound system or, better yet, to the ECM via an EOBR-type setup?

I don’t mean to be alarmist about the issue — Trudell noted that an instance of a malicious programmer actually performing this kind of infiltration had yet to be documented. All the same, in their August report the university researchers “illustrated the myriad ways hackers could take over a vehicle without going anywhere near it,” Trudell wrote. Researchers “showed they could infiltrate test cars by attacking the Bluetooth connection used in hands-free phone systems, the computers used by mechanics, and by dialing the cellular number in telematics systems. Once connected, the team had control over most of the vehicle, including its engine and brakes. In one test, Savage’s students in San Diego hacked a test car in Seattle. They remotely unlocked the doors, turned on the engine, and sent the car’s GPS coordinates to Kohno’s students, who hopped in and drove away. ” …

Apparently the DOT is exploring the issue, Trudell noted on Here & Now. No mention is made of trucking systems, but given the prevalence of telematics devices among many fleets, and hands-free cell phones in general….

At the least, the report doesn’t do much for the DOT’s long-in-developing Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) initiative to increase wireless “smart” vehicle-to-vehicle communication on the road and between wireless substations along the highway and moving vehicles, for various safety applications, which I’ve written about in the past. But could it be another point on certain parties’ efforts to ban all cell phones in trucks? Oh jeez, I’ll stop now…

Read Trudell’s full report.

Download the full research study, released in August, here.

Allow him to reintroduce himself
Prime-leased owner-operator Siphiwe Baleka has finished another race, placing first in the male 40-44 division of the Powerman Muncie Sprint Triathlon on Saturday, Oct. 1, with a time of 1:09:32. He was fifth place overall, racing for the Endurance Films Racing Team. I personally last checked in with Baleka in August, when he competed in the USA Triathlon Age Group nationals.

A longtime swimmer, as you’ll remember (Baleka first made news in Overdrive after winning the trophy for his age group in the 2011 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals early in the year), Baleka finished with the fastest overall swim time and the third fastest run.

“I was happy that it was a late start,” he said of Powerman officials’ moving the start time back due to cool weather, “but I didn’t know what to expect about racing in the cold. I have been running very well lately, so I expected to outrun anyone in my age group if it was a close race.”

Take a look at Baleka’s Fitness Trucking series of DVDs with exercise routines for drivers on the road. “Every week now I am driving about 3,000 miles, cycling 110 miles, running 24 miles and swimming five miles,” he says. “I just want to show other truck drivers that you can stay fit even while on the road and compete at a high level if you have the desire.”

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