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Security column: Updates and Outlook 2018/2019

November 21st, 2018 No comments

Over the past year, our authors Christian Keydel and Olaf Pfeiffer have published several security- related CAN articles in the CAN newsletter. It’s now time for an up-to-date summary, review and outlook.

How do we address security?

To analyze the application-specific attack scenarios, we can group systems with CAN-connected devices as follows:

  • Private and locked:
    Only trusted persons have physical access to CAN wires and devices. There are no gateways to other networks.
  • Remotely accessible:
    The CAN bus is connected to one or multiple gateways to other networks.
  • Time-limited physical access:
    An untrusted party can be expected to have physical access to the CAN bus and devices for a limited time.
  • Unlimited physical access:
    An untrusted party can be expected to continuously have physical access to the system.

What measures should be taken?

The recommended security measures for the mentioned groups range from none for group 1 to state-of-the-art for group 4 which presents the toughest challenge. With virtually unlimited physical access, an untrusted party can go as far as using flash/code extraction services for MCUs to obtain code and private keys. To thwart such attempts, you will have to use a secure microcontroller with built-in encrypted key and code storage like the NXP LPC54Sxx series for example. Here, the encryption is based on a private PUF (Physical Unclonable Function) which uses physical properties that vary for each chip and can never be extracted, like contents of uninitialized SRAM.

Securing CAN communications is a viable option especially for group 2 and in combination with physical protection also group 3 applications. As we’ve shown, it needs only minimal resources to implement injection monitoring in combination with a secure heartbeat (see article “Scalable CAN security”). However, due to the limited data size in CAN messages, individual message authentication often requires sending a second message with the authentication data.

With CAN FD, adding security becomes easier, as the payload and security record can often be combined in a single CAN FD data frame, avoiding the overhead of managing a second authentication message.

What can we expect in the future?

In the new CiA CAN Cyber Security group it has become clear that where security is required, it should be added to all communication layers.  To add message monitoring and flood protection to the CAN bus, there are hardware solutions like NXPs TJA115x secure CAN/CAN FD transceiver family. Similar protection can be added in software to the lowest driver layers. Just above the data link layer, CANcrypt (FD) provides a secure grouping mechanism. For the CANopen/CANopen FD and J1939 protocol layers, different security features can be implemented, including authenticated access for diagnostics or remote-control features.

Reaching highest security levels will only be possible if the hardware supports securing the software and communications, using built-in features for the protection of stored code and keys.

Categories: CAN, CANopen, Security Tags: , , ,

Active CAN/CANopen “shield” CANgineBerry

April 10th, 2018 No comments

The new CANgineBerry is an active CAN interface with a Cortex-M0 microcontroller and various firmware options. At launch, two options are available: One for a CANopen Controller / Manager and one for a configurable CANopen slave device.

The CANopen Controller scans the network for connected slave devices within less than 50 ms after power-up, sets up process data handling, starts the network and continues monitoring it. Once the host that CANgineBerry is connected to is up and running as well, it can immediately start using the CANopen network and access any device.

The second firmware option is implementing a CANopen slave device which is fully configurable with node ID and with an Object Dictionary that the user creates with the provided CANopen Architect software (evaluation version is sufficient for this use).

The CANgineBerry’s host can be a Raspberry Pi®, another embedded computing systems or even a PC. The communication to the host system uses a regular serial channel (TTL-UART), so no special driver is required as UART support is typically part of all operating systems. The communication between host and CANgineBerry and the API is designed to serve the application. For example, heartbeats are automatically monitored but the host is only informed about changes in the heartbeat status (like “activated” or “lost”) but not about every individual heartbeat message.

This architecture of CANgineBerry addresses the shortcomings of many “CAN shields” that are passive, have no own intelligence and require the host computer to handle all CAN communication message by message. In worst case, a CAN system can have more than ten thousand individual messages per second. Sometimes the real-time requirements are below 10 ms for some responses which is not realistically achievable with a Linux or Windows® based host and a passive approach.

Summary of firmware options currently available or under development:

  • CANopen self-configuring Controller / Manager
  • CANopen slave device (configurable via EDS, Electronic Data Sheet)
  • Lawicel CAN-RS232 protocol
  • CANcrypt (secure CAN communication) for the above versions
  • CiA 447 – automotive add-on electronics
  • J1939 gateway

For more information about the CANgineBerry, current firmware options and availability, visit www.CANgineBerry.com

CAN Security Expectations vs. Limitations

February 25th, 2018 No comments

Some people try to push easily-available “Internet-proven security mechanisms” also into embedded networks like CAN and CANopen. However, in embedded systems security is never about a single network, one needs to look at the entire picture.

We have started a series of articles about embedded security issues with a focus on CAN and CANopen networks in the CAN newsletter. In the current article we are having a closer look at taxi fare calculation as one example for an attractive hacking target. How can you be sure that you are not overcharged? What would be required to make taxi fare manipulations really difficult?

Tampering with the underlying CAN/CANopen communication is just one of several attack vectors available here. Besides manipulating the wheel with the sensor knowing that a 3% change in diameter can result in a 10% variance in the fare calculation there is also the sealed meter. But these days, technology like 3D printers and sophisticated electronics are also easily being used by the “bad guys”. From the article:

“Think about the manipulations already performed today to banking machines. Additional keyboards and card readers can be tacked-on to banking machines in a way that users don’t recognize the difference. In the same way a meter-like display could be designed to clip onto or fully around an existing meter. The original meter “vanishes” inside a fake meter that can display whatever the taxi driver would like it to display.”

Browse the current CAN Newsletter: March 2018

Read the full article here: Security expectations vs.limitations (pdf)

CANcrypt Update: Better Security and CANopen FD support, shown at Embedded World 2018

February 20th, 2018 No comments

Today, EmSA released a software update for both the freely downloadable and the commercial version of CANcrypt. The update implements multiple recommendations from a security assessment.

As part of the NXP secure bootloader project, the experts at MathEmbedded did a security assessment of CANcrypt. The 43-page report examined possible attack vectors and potential weaknesses. Even to the original release the report stated: “We have not identified a straightforward attack that would allow an unauthorized attacker to easily accomplish all the steps [above].” But the latest update now fixes the discovered weaknesses or adds security notes and comments for application-specific configurations that need less security.

Just in time for the Embedded World 2018 in Nuremberg we can now show a first CANcrypt adaptation to CANopen FD. As CANopen FD already provides a direct, flexible communication method with USDO (Universal Service Data Object) supporting both broadcast and point-to-point communication, the easiest way to port the CANcrypt control messages to CANopen FD is to turn them into CANopen FD objects in the Object Dictionary. The CANcrypt control messages thus are “tunneled” through CANopen using dedicated Objects and USDO services. This allows implementing the CANcrypt grouping mechanism (similar to pairing, but for multiple devices). Authenticated messages are then exchanged based on a dynamically changing key. Each data transfer includes a random value that is used to continuously update the dynamic key.

Visit the CiA (CAN in Automation) at the Embedded World 2018 (hall 1, booth 1-630) to see the CANopen FD demonstrator and to learn more about CANcrypt. To download the free evaluation software or learn more about CANcrypt, visit our web pages for download and CANcrypt.net.

CANopen Magic now supports CANopen FD

December 11th, 2017 No comments

It was a lengthy process. Along with other experts we from Embedded Systems Academy participated in the CANopen FD definition group for more than 2 years now. Initially some only wanted a few changes. However as CAN FD is not backward compatible to CAN (classic CAN controllers produce error frames when they see a CAN FD message) the majority saw the chance to “dump complete backward compatibility” and add new and advanced features. The previous SDO communication (request-response scheme between one master and multiple devices) was replaced with the USDO communication – the Universal Service Data Object.

A first version of the definition of CANopen FD (CiA 1301) was released by the CiA in October this year. It is available from the CiA on request (www.can-cia.org/services/publications/). Some of the new features include:

  • TPDOs can now have up to 64 bytes of data (previous 8)
  • Full USDO mesh definition – every node can send client requests to every other node
  • USDO communication may be a broadcast to all nodes

The USDO service allows any device to send service requests to any other device, without the need for a master or manager to be involved. This greatly improves plug-and-play support and self-configuring systems, as now each device independently can analyse its surroundings: which devices are on this network and what kind of communication objects do they have available.

We at Embedded Systems Academy are now adding CANopen FD support to all our CANopen products. The first line of products supporting CANopen FD is our CANopen Magic software for the analysis and test of networks. As of the latest release (V9.0) all CANopen Magic products support both CANopen and CANopen FD. For CANopen FD an appropriate CAN FD interface must be connected. All of our current tests have been made with the PCAN-USB FD and PCAN-USB Pro FD interfaces from PEAK System.

We are currently in the process of contacting all current CANopen Magic users to inform them about their upgrade options. If you are using CANopen Magic and have not yet received an email from us about your upgrade options, please contact us.

CAN and CANopen FD at ‘sps ipc drives 2017’

November 6th, 2017 No comments

Visit us in Nuremberg for the 28th international exhibition for Electric Automation, Systems and Components, the “sps ipc drives 2017”. The show is open from November 28th to 30th, 2017. Our software and solutions are shown on two displays at the NXP booth and the CiA (CAN in Automation) booth.

Our display at the NXP booth (Hall 10.1, Booth 325) focuses on CAN FD and security. The new features of CAN FD (bigger message frames, higher bit rate) are used to implement a more efficient and secure bootloader based on CANcrypt and AES based authentication and encryption. Join us for an informal lunch & learn session about CAN FD on Tuesday or Wednesday starting at noon (for about 45min) in the NXP on-site meeting room. Seats are limited, please register here to join.

Our display at the CiA booth (Hall 2, Booth 300) focuses on CANopen FD. A multi vendor demo setup shows one of the many new features available with CANopen FD: segmented broadcast. This transfer mode supports sharing data blocks (for example tables with data of drive acceleration ramps) instantly among multiple participants. In the demo, the data exchange is visualized using graphics, which are shared among multiple nodes.

Contact us, if you still need tickets for the event or if you would like to set an appointment to discuss your CAN FD / CANopen FD / CAN security requirements.

International CAN Conference (iCC) 2017 Videos Released

October 5th, 2017 No comments

The CiA (CAN in Automation) user’s group released the presentation videos of the iCC 2017. Besides the keynote by Holger Zeltwanger there are three more presentations that we would like to highlight here in our blog:

Andrew Ayre and Olaf Pfeiffer (both ESAcademy): Automated trace analysis for testing of CANopen devices

This paper presents a summary of the debug information extractable from CANopen trace recordings. The functionality described in this paper are implemented in our Logxaminer software.

 

Olaf Pfeiffer (ESAcademy): Scalable security for CAN, CANopen, and other CAN protocols

This paper describes the main functionality of the CANcrypt security framework described in our book “Implementing Scalable CAN Security with CANcrypt”.

 

Bernhard Floeth (Opel) and Olaf Pfeiffer (ESAcademy): Using an enhanced condensed device configuration file format for CANopen boot-loading and/or device testing

This paper presents the enhanced CDCF player integrated in our free CANopen File Player and CANopen Diag projects. It supports spreadsheet based (.csv) Object Dictionary access with active flow control.

 

For a complete list of all available videos, go to: www.can-cia.org/services/conferences/icc

Secure CANcrypt CAN FD Bootloader for NXP LPC546xx

June 15th, 2017 No comments

Together with NXP, the Embedded Systems Academy implements a secure CAN FD bootloader based on the CANcrypt security protocols. The bootloader will be available to users of the LPC546xx as free download. It is a “secondary bootloader”, meaning that it only provides security for the added bootloading channel, in this case the CAN FD interface. Someone with physical access to the LPC546xx will always be able to use the primary, on-chip bootloader to re-flash the device with any code.

The security system of the bootloader uses two security levels, each based on a symmetric key (default 128bit, up to 1024bit optional).

  1. On the CAN FD communication level, the CANcrypt protocol (www.cancrypt.eu) is used to ensure that only an authorized communication partner can activate the bootloader, erase the flash memory and send new code to the LPC546xx. The CANcrypt connection key used for this level is generated by the system builder or integrator that initially assembles the entire system.
  2. On the file transfer level, the file containing the new code to be loaded is encrypted using an encryption and authentication method based on a code protection key that gets programmed into the LPC546xx at the same time when the bootloader is installed (typically at manufacturer end-of-line assembly and test).
Secure bootloader security levels

Figure: Secure bootloader security levels

These two levels ensure a separation of the security features between manufacturer and system integrator/builder or service technician. Only an authorized technician will be able to connect his diagnostic device or software to the bootloader. But at this security level alone it will not be possible to generate authorized firmware, that requires an additional key only known to the manufacturer.

If you want to learn more about this bootloader, register now for the webinar (Thursday, June 29, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM CEST) on the NXP website at: http://www.nxp.com/support/training-events/online-academy/lpc54000-series-online-training:LPC54000-Series-Online-Training

The version for free download is a binary only and will use a pre-selected cipher algorithms, fixed default configuration for parameters like CAN FD bit rates, CAN IDs and timings and timeouts used. The full source code is available from Embedded Systems Academy, giving users full control over all configurations and cipher algorithms used.

Could Ransomware Go Embedded?

May 23rd, 2017 No comments

Could Ransomware Go Embedded?

For criminal hackers, ransomware has become increasingly popular. Ransomware locks a PC or encrypts its data and ask for a ransom to be paid to the hackers to unlock the PC or decrypt the data.

To which extent are embedded systems vulnerable to similar attacks? How realistic is it that firmware update mechanisms are used by hackers to install foreign code? Although loading malicious code to deeply embedded systems might seem far-fetched, some of the Snowden documents have shown that this already happened to the firmware in disk drives. Also, the well-documented Jeep Cherokee attack in 2015 that allowed a remote operator to almost entirely remote control the vehicle shook the industry. A wake-up call?

The Challenges

For hackers, the challenging part is that even though there has been a development to use more off-the-shelf hardware reference designs and software, most Embedded Systems platforms are still different from each other. Different microcontrollers require different code, so that ransomware has to be tailor-made for a specific microcontroller. The bootloader mechanisms in place are also different which means hackers need to find exploits for every one they are trying to attack.

A hacker’s task would be to write an exploit that manages to replace the entire original code and includes an own, password-protected, bootloader. With payment of the ransom, the hacker would share details on how to use his bootloader. There would of course always be the risk that this feature was not tested well enough by the hacker and a restore was not possible at all. It can be assumed that far more effort would have gone into generating the exploit and replacement code than the unlocking and restoring procedure.

Note that many microcontrollers have a built-in on-chip bootloader that cannot be erased or disabled, so if such a bootloader is usable in a device, a device with ransomware could be re-programmed on-site by the manufacturer or a technician. However, that might still be impractical or expensive if, for example, a very large number of devices were affected and/or the devices were at very remote locations.

A theoretical Example

To pick a specific application example, let’s have a look at an elevator / lift system: It consists of multiple microcontroller systems that are interconnected for example by CAN or CANopen and let us further assume they also feature a CAN/CANopen based bootloader mechanism.

A hacker installing ransomware replacing the existing bootloader with their own would need to

  1. get access to the system (either physical by installing a sniffer or remotely through a hacked PC that is connected to the system)
  2. know which microcontrollers are used
  3. know how the CAN/CANopen bootloader mechanism works (with some CANopen profiles, some details about it are standardized)

This information might be stored on multiple PCs: with the manufacturers, distributors, technicians or operators of the system. If one or multiple of those get hacked, an attacker might have all this information readily available. Note that the risk of a rogue or disgruntled employee with inside knowledge is often underestimated. The information above will typically be accessible by many people.

With this information, a hacker would be able to generate and load his own ransomware loader replacing the original code in all devices, which would disable the system. Now buttons, displays and controls would all stop working and every affected device / microcontroller would require a restore of its original firmware. If the affected devices still have an on-chip bootloader and if it can be activated, then a technician could manually update all affected devices. For large elevator systems with 20 or more floors and multiple shafts this task alone could take days.

How likely is such an attack?

The sophistication level required for the attack described above is quite high. Not only does it require “traditional” hacker knowledge but also in-depth knowledge of embedded systems. At this time it might be unattractive to most hackers as there are possibly still many “easier” targets out there. However, with enough resources thrown at the task, a determined hacker group could achieve the tasks listed above.

What are possible counter measures?

The most basic pre-requisite for an attack as described here is the knowledge about the specific microcontroller and bootloader mechanism used. This information can be obtained by either monitoring/tracing the CAN/CANopen communication during the firmware update process or by access to a computer that has this information stored. Protecting these in the first place has the highest priority.

The designer has to make sure that the firmware update process is not easy to reengineer just by monitoring the CAN/CANopen communication of a firmware update procedure. Things that we can often learn just by monitoring a firmware reprogramming cycle:

  1. How is the bootloader activated? Often the activation happens through a specific read/write sequence.
    Counter measure: Only allow authorized partners to activate the bootloader, best by using encryption such as CANcrypt or at least a challenge/response mechanism that is not repetitive.
  2. What file format is used? “.hex” or binary versions of it can easily be recognized.
    Counter measure: Use encryption or authentication methods to prohibit that “any” code can be loaded by your own bootloader.
  3. What CRC is used? Often a standard-CRC stored at end of the file or loadable memory.
    Counter measure: If file format doesn’t use encryption, at least encrypt the CRC or better use a cryptographic hash function instead of a plain CRC.

These counter measures are fall-back safeguards to protect the system if a higher security level has failed before. A hacker should not get bootloader access to a deeply embedded system in the first place. Ensure that all remote-access options to the bootloader level are well-secured.

News from iCC17 & EW17, CANcrypt released

March 20th, 2017 No comments

The last two weeks were very exciting for us: We held several papers at the International CAN Conference and Embedded World (both in Nuremberg, Germany), participated in the first CANopen FD demonstrator at both events – with the new NXP LPC54618 – and finally released our book “Implementing scalable CAN security with CANcrypt”.

The CANopen FD demonstrator at the CiA (CAN in Automation) booth showed one of the new features of CANopen FD: segmented broadcast of larger data blocks with “Universal Service Data Objects” (USDOs). This feature can be used to broadcast images, configuration tables or even firmware updates. Here, any participant could be commanded to broadcast an image to all other participants. Such use cases were almost unthinkable with classic CANopen communication.

At Embedded World, PHYTEC showed a Nano Dimension 3D printer for PCBs. Prototyping your printed circuit boards just became a lot easier and faster. The circuits are printed with a highly conductive ink. It looks like the machine can directly produce boards from Gerber files.

At the NXP booth, one of the demos featured the NXP LPC54618 microcontroller with two CAN FD interfaces. The “FD” (Flexible Data rate) allows the data portion of a CAN message to be transmitted at higher bit rates. So far, classical CAN was limited to 1 Mbps. With currently available transceivers the data rate can now be up to 5 Mbps. Also in CAN FD, the maximum payload for each message is 64 bytes compared to eight bytes in traditional CAN. The demo compared different firmware download speeds. Using CAN FD, updates can now be transferred multiple times faster than before.

The release of our book about CANcrypt (www.cancrypt.eu) stirred a lot of interest and we had many engaged discussions, also with some security experts. CANcrypt is a security framework and the security level actually used is configurable. As usually, there is a trade-off: the more security you require, the more resources both in CPU time as well as in memory space you need. For a configuration on the upper end of security, proven encryption methods like AES-128 can be used. It will be interesting to see if the lower-end lightweight “Speck” cipher reaches adequate security levels, too.

A first potential weak spot in one of the initial published configurations (user section, where user’s are setting up their own security configuration) was already discovered and is currently improved. The encryption of the secure heartbeat accidentally used only limited parts of the shared dynamic key, reducing the effective key to 32-bit. However, CANcrypt supports key sizes of up to 1024-bit. The next release will use a demo where a larger key is applied properly.

To learn about our bounty program, stay tuned by joining our mailing list or following us on twitter . Within the next few weeks we will start such a program to encourage others to search for possible flaws in the CANcrypt implementation.