Automakers warm up to friendly hackers at cybersecurity conference

Attendees of the cybersecurity event test their skills at the conference’s car hacking village in Las Vegas. (Reuters)
Updated 13 August 2019

Automakers warm up to friendly hackers at cybersecurity conference

LAS VEGAS: At a conference where hackers can try their hand at picking locks and discover cyber vulnerabilities in a makeshift hospital, they can also endeavor to break into the control units of cars and take over driving functions.
Those efforts at the DEF CON security convention in Las Vegas are sponsored by carmakers and suppliers that have increasingly recognized the need to collaborate with so-called white hat hackers — cyber experts who specialize in discovering vulnerabilities to help organizations.
Attendees who visited the car hacking site had to escape a vehicle by deciphering the code to open its trunk, control its radio volume and speed, and lock the doors through their computers.
“A big part of it is redefining the term ‘hacker’ away from that of a criminal to make automakers understand that we’re here to make their systems more secure,” said Sam Houston, senior community manager at Bugcrowd, which recruits researchers for so called bug bounty programs at Tesla Inc, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and other automakers.
Volkswagen AG, Fiat Chrysler and suppliers Aptiv PLC and NXP Semiconductors NV were among the sponsors of this year’s car hacking village — as some have done at previous DEF CON conventions.
Las Vegas once a year becomes the gathering place for tens of thousands of cybersecurity enthusiasts who attend DEF CON and the preceding corporate Black Hat conference.
Weaving their way through revelers at Blackjack tables and beauty salons promising non-surgical face lifts, DEF CON expects at least 25,000 attendees by the end of the weekend.
At DEF CON, the largely male participants are not registered by name to protect their privacy and attendees need to pay in cash to receive a blinking badge featuring an exposed circuit board that allows them to complete tasks.

BACKGROUND

Las Vegas once a year becomes the gathering place for tens of thousands of cybersecurity enthusiasts who attend DEF CON and the preceding corporate Black Hat conference.

The conference provides a rare opportunity for enthusiasts to learn about car hacking.
“Automotive provides a great challenge because the systems are distinct from other security areas,” said Craig Smith, a security researcher who, together with Robert Leale, founded the car hacking village in 2015.
Leale and Smith said they witnessed a steady annual growth in participants.
More connections and technological features in modern vehicles also increasingly attract security professionals from other research areas, said Aaron Cornelius, senior researcher at cybersecurity company Grimm. Cornelius was supervising a station where participants could try to hack into the control units of a 2012 Ford Focus.
Assaf Harel, chief scientist of Karamba Security, a company that provides automotive security technology and works with car manufacturers and suppliers including Denso and Alpine Electronics, said the hacking community has opened the auto industry’s eyes.
“Carmakers have been discovering new issues with their traditional architectures thanks to white hat hackers, which highlighted security needs for carmakers and suppliers alike,” said Harel. 
He operated a station where hackers could try to modify a model traffic light.


‘Juhayman: 40 years on:’ Arab News takes a Deep Dive into Saudi history with a multimedia look at the siege of Makkah's Grand Mosque

Updated 1 min 23 sec ago

‘Juhayman: 40 years on:’ Arab News takes a Deep Dive into Saudi history with a multimedia look at the siege of Makkah's Grand Mosque

  • Featuring interviews with key players such as Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s English-language newspaper tells the full story of the unthinkable event that cast a shadow over its society for decades
  • As part of its Deep Dive series online, featuring documentary-style multimedia stories, Arab News looks back at this event in a way no Saudi publication has done before

Forty years ago this week, on Nov. 20, 1979, a group of militants did the unthinkable: They seized the Grand Mosque in Makkah, taking people hostage inside in a two-week standoff with Saudi forces.

Until recently, the crisis remained too painful for Saudis to examine fully for almost four decades. Now Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s leading English-language daily, is looking back at the event in a way that no publication in the Kingdom has done before: with a multimedia Deep Dive story online at arabnews.com/juhayman-40-years-on.

“The 1979 attack on Makkah’s  Grand Mosque halted major social development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, negatively affecting a progressing nation for generations to come,” said Rawan Radwan, the lead reporter on the project, who is based in Jeddah. “At Arab News, we delved deep into the matter to uncover the story of Juhayman, the terrorist who seized the holiest site and shook the Islamic world. It’s a story that for many years struck fear in the hearts of the Saudi people, yet has not been covered in such depth in local or international media — until now.”

Arab News launched its Deep Dive series earlier this year as an engaging new way to showcase its in-depth storytelling on key topics, enlivened by audio, video and animated graphics. Its first story was an in-depth account of the space mission by the first Arab astronaut, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman; the siege of Makkah is another story from the Kingdom’s past that it chose to revisit.

Extensive research was conducted over two months in several cities, including Makkah itself, and involved teams in five of Arab News’ bureaus: Jeddah, Riyadh, Dubai, London and Beirut. The team interviewed key players such as Prince Turki Al-Faisal, then head of the General Intelligence Directorate, and re-created what happened in a series of interactive maps.

 

Juhayman: 40 years on
On the anniversary of the 1979 attack on Makkah's Grand Mosque, Arab News tells the full story of an unthinkable event that shocked the Islamic world and cast a shadow over Saudi society for decades
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