Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

Cybersecurity researcher, Troy Hunt, discovered that the Nissan LEAF can be easily hacked.

Hunt contacted Nissan and says he gave the automaker a month to fix the problem before he went public. The vulnerability apparently wasn't fixed within that timeframe, so Hunt went public with the details of the hack earlier today.

UPDATE: Nissan has disabled the app due to this vulnerability. The automaker will work to fix the issue in as timely a manner as possible.

The issue is due to a security problem with the NissanConnect app. It only affects those who have signed up for a Nissan CarWings account. Hunt believes:

"The right thing to do at the moment would be for Nissan to turn it off altogether. They are going to have to let customers know. And to be honest, a fix would not be hard to do. It's not that they have done authorization badly, they just haven't done it at all, which is bizarre."

The NissanConnect app only needs the VIN number to take control. This number is on the vehicle in plain view. The hack allows an outside user to control vehicles features such as heat and AC from the app or even a web browser. Also, stored information about recent trips is accessible.

Hunt tested the hack with a friend, Scott Helme, who owns a LEAF. Scott explains:

"I was sat in the vehicle with everything powered off and didn't have my key on me. So, the vehicle was as it would be if it was completely unattended. As I was talking to Troy on Skype, he pasted the web address into his browser and then maybe 10 seconds later I heard an internal beep in the car. The heated seat then turned on, the heated steering wheel turned on. And I could hear the fans spin up and the air-conditioning unit turn on."

Fortunately, testing proved that the hack would not work once the car was being driven and that vital vehicle controls (accelerator, brakes, etc.) could not be hacked. Helme unregistered his Nissan app and Hunt lost communication with the vehicle.

Hunt said that since the app communicates through Nissan's computer servers, the company could easily suspend it. He concluded:

"Unfortunately what we are seeing is just another case of security being important after a problem is discovered."

For much more detailed information from the "hacker" himself, check out TroyHunt.com

Source: BBC, hat tip to Bill R!