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Cyber security workshop for CAN (FD) at CiA

April 16th, 2018 No comments

At the upcoming CiA cyber security workshop (Nuremberg, May 2nd) our engineers participate with two presentations. We inform participants about the most common attack vectors used on CAN (FD) systems and some of the basic protection mechanisms already available today. In a second part we will outline CANcrypt based mechanisms and how they can easily be used to implement a generic security layer. This layer can be used in between the CAN Data Link Layer and the higher protocol layers like J1939 or CANopen.

The cyber security workshop is free for CiA members. To register, visit the CiA web pages.

 

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.

A security #Meltdown, also for embedded systems?

January 10th, 2018 No comments

Meltdown and Spectre are considered by many to be the biggest security flaws in the history of computing, both in terms of numbers of affected devices (billions) and time they have been laying dormant (20 years). Whenever security issues like these that affect PCs and mobile devices become public, we take a look at how they might affect Embedded Systems as well. An inconvenient truth in our industry is that software in Embedded Systems does not get updated, to put it mildly, as often as regular desktop PCs. Sometimes that means “never”. That is why even “ancient” attack vectors like the WannaCry and its descendants such as Petya and NotPetya ramsomware can still cause major damage in various systems, even months or years after the underlying security issues have been made public.

The core issue behind Meltdown and Spectre is that parts of a memory protection and isolation system are being compromised on a hardware level. Such isolation is meant to ensure that one task or program can not access the memory used by another task or program and potentially spy out sensitive information. The “good news” for most older chips and many embedded microcontroller devices first: They often don’t have a vulnerable memory isolation logic (involving out-of-order or speculative code execution) in the first place. It is actually worse: The memory in most lower-end embedded chips is wide open to all running tasks. While some microcontrollers do provide an MPU (Memory Protection Unit, see ARM Community for an example), it is often limited in terms of number of memory areas, sizes and number of levels/tasks supported. From our experience it is safe to say that a large number of embedded applications doesn’t make use of it at all. And when an MPU is used, then the primary goal is often to protect code against memory-crossing bugs to make it safer against failure, but not attacks. With these types of systems, once a hacker manages to execute some code on an embedded device, this code should be assumed to immediately have access to all resources of the chip, including the memory.

This looks like a devastating assessment from a security standpoint, however, injecting code into an embedded microcontroller is not easy. Many such systems do not use an operating system at all, have no command line or only a very limited user interface without the option to load and start a piece of code. Typically the only way to inject code is through a bootloader or a debug interface, if at all. It is up to the system designers, sometimes the factory programming and the program running on an embedded microcontroller to disable casual access to these functions.

We know that for many designers of embedded systems, the time they can spend on security issues is limited. If you are part of this group, you may use the publicity around Meltdown and Spectre to justify some extra time to review potentially vulnerabilities to attacks that are based on the same principle: to load or inject malicious code that spies out or manipulates data in your embedded system.

For such a review, first look for all options how code could be injected into your system or altered. Could an attacker make use of any of the provided bootloader mechanisms or the debug interface? If you can’t disable all of these because you need to be able to update “legitimate” code, then authentication is mandatory and encryption during transmission highly recommended. Preferably implement different layers of authentication, for example one to access the interface to update code and another one to protect the code itself. For an example see the secure secondary bootloader we implemented for NXP. Also, review if your microcontroller has a MPU or similar and how you can make best use of it not only to protect the system from buggy code but also from intentional attacks.

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

First Secure CANcrypt CAN FD Bootloader available

July 19th, 2017 No comments

Today, the Embedded Systems Academy announces the availability of its secure CANcrypt CAN FD bootloader for the NXP LPC54618 microcontroller. The binary version is available as free download and may be used without limitations. For programming, the FlashMagic software (www.flashmagictool.com) and a PEAK PCAN-USB FD interface (www.peak-system.com) is required.

The security system is based on two symmetric keys, separating the code protection (happening at the manufacturer) from the download process done by a system integrator or service technician. The code file is AES-GCM (128-bit key) protected, offering both encryption and authentication. The local CAN FD connection (between service host and bootloader) is CANcrypt protected (128-bit key, authentication and partial encryption).

On the host side, the update process is fully integrated into the existing FlashMagic software that handles Flash programming for all NXP LPC microcontroller families.

Secure Bootloader Components

The figure illustrates the components of the system. The bootloader and the initial two keys (code protection, connection) are programmed into the LPC54618 device in a trustworthy manufacturer environment.

For a code update, the manufacturer creates a secure update file based on the first, code protection key. The file is encrypted and can be passed to the service technician through an unsecured channel such as email or web download. FlashMagic includes a minimal CANcrypt configurator, allowing the technician to initiate the code update using the second, CANcrypt connection key.

The secure bootloader does not by default disable the on-chip bootloaders and debug access by SWD to ensure that the default implementation can not accidentally lock a device. However, if all of these recovery methods are disabled, either during production or through a programmed application, then the secure bootloader remains the only method for code updates. In this configuration, once the CANcrypt connection key is lost, no further updates will ever be possible.

In addition to this free binary loader, ESAcademy offers a commercial version including all sources. This version offers more configuration options, such as customizing the CAN-FD bit rates (default is 500kbps/2000kbps) and security methods.

The security experts at MathEmbedded are in the process of reviewing the project. Once completed, we will publish the results here.

Download link: LPC54618_secure_CANFD_bootloader_V100.zip

MD5: 28a896e17a9a57b938337095fbd35372
SHA256: eb6d22e9390e0d1a79f04a81f926bcd98d496dd65f03535298e1ebf050e4729c

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.

Commercial CANcrypt Software Solution now available

April 19th, 2017 No comments

The Embedded Systems Academy now has the commercial version of CANcrypt available. It includes the hardcover, full-color version of the book and examples for both, the pairing and grouping modes. Demo implementations are provided for various NXP LPC processors (LPC23xx, LPC17xx and LPC11Cxx), the STM32F0xx as well as for the PEAK PCAN basic library supporting PEAK CAN interfaces.

The pairing demo shows how a 128bit key is securely transmitted from one device to another. The grouping demo shows secure communication between three devices. Here security is based on a session key that is continuously updated and gets saved when ungrouping. You can find more information including the software manual and the license information in our online store at www.esacademystore.eu/CANcrypt-Commercial/en.

Categories: CAN, Security Tags: , ,