White Hat luxury car hacker to speak at USENIX security event despite UK injunction

  • Bob Brown (Network World)
  • 02 August, 2013 16:16

The lead author of a controversial research paper about flaws in luxury car lock systems will deliver a presentation at this month's USENIX Security Symposium even though a court ruling has forced the paper to be pulled from the event's proceedings.

USENIX has announced that in "in keeping with its commitment to academic freedom and open access to research," researcher Roel Verdult will speak at the Aug. 14-16 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C.

[BACKGROUND:University condemns court ban of research paper on flaws in car lock system]

[HIGH-TECH CAR THEFT:3 minutes to steal keyless BMWs]

Verdult, from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, along with co-authors Flavio Garcia of the University of Birmingham and Baris Ege of Radboud University Nijmegen, was recently prohibited by the High Court of Justice in the U.K. from publishing certain portions of their paper, "Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wireless Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer." Among the most sensitive information: Codes for cracking the car security system.

Megamos Crypto is an algorithm-based security system used in cars such as Porsches and Audis for unlocking vehicles by validating an owner's key. The argument against allowing publication of the researchers' investigation into Megamos Crypto flaws is that it could lead to car theft. The Guardian last month broke the story about the issue, which was prompted by Volkswagen's parent company.

Verdult's past research has included topics such as RFID and online banking.

Others speaking at the USENIX event include the White House Senior Director for Cybersecurity, the Google Chrome  Security Team and Bloomberg's security architect.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggsblog and Facebookpage, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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