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Using Tire Pressure Sensors To Spy On Cars

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the privacy-under-pressure dept.

Privacy 203

AngryDad writes "Beginning last September, all vehicles sold in the US have been required to have Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) installed. An article up at HexView enumerates privacy issues introduced by TPMS, and some of them look pretty scary. Did you know that traffic sensors on highways can be adopted to read TPMS data and track individual vehicles? How about an explosive device that sets itself off when the right vehicle passes nearby? TPMS has been discussed in the past, but I haven't seen its privacy implications analyzed before. Fortunately the problem is easy to fix: encrypt TPMS data the way keyless entry systems do."

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203 comments

Finally, an April Fools story!!! (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 6 years ago | (#22934902)

This is a joke, I hope. *crosses fingers*

Re:Finally, an April Fools story!!! (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 years ago | (#22935296)

"Fortunately the problem is easy to fix: encrypt TPMS data the way keyless entry systems do."

How about another easy fix. Just disable the fscking thing.....

Re: Finally, an April Fools story!!! (2, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 6 years ago | (#22936346)

"Fortunately the problem is easy to fix: encrypt TPMS data the way keyless entry systems do."

Yeah, encryption would stop the little hacker down the street and keep them from setting up a road side explosive set just for you, but it wouldn't stop the government -- who would mandate a backdoor -- from doing it.

And personally, I'm not really worried about the hacker down the street...if cars start blowing up I would bet money it would be government doing it...and not a foreign government, but our government (but of course, it would be blamed on terrorist and the population at large would give up ever last bit of the tiny amount of "freedom" that we have left to get those darn terrorist).

Personally, I've never really been scared by any of the things our government keeps telling me I should be terrorized by, but what really scares me is the bleak future I see for my kids and their kids...caused by our own Orwellian, all-powerful government.

transporter_ii

Re: Finally, an April Fools story!!! (5, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | about 6 years ago | (#22936478)

Personally, I've never really been scared by any of the things our government keeps telling me I should be terrorized by, but what really scares me is the bleak future I see for my kids and their kids...caused by our own Orwellian, all-powerful government.
Yeah, I soooooo hear ya on that one! You know what else scares me? Clowns. The government keeps saying that there's nothing to fear from clowns, but I know The Truth! Those colourful costumes and goofy makeup are the perfect disguises for Secret Service death squads, prowling our neighbourhoods and looking to assassinate or brainwash anyone they see purchasing organic tomatoes. It's downright terrifying!

I'm glad to see that there's other right-minded folk like me on here! Keep up the good work Mr. Transporter!

Re:Finally, an April Fools story!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935502)

It's not.

Re:Finally, an April Fools story!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22936088)

Unless you have a higher end vehicle (BMW/Lexus) there's a very good chance this story doesn't apply to you.

Most vehicles have indirect tpms.. meaning your car knows your tire is low because a flat/low tire has different rotational characteristics than a properly inflated one does. No rfid.. no scary intrusion of privacy.

Re:Finally, an April Fools story!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22936392)

Nope, the law that mandates TPMS also mandates that only direct systems be used.

Almost all OEM's are using systems by schrader-bridgeport, seimens, TRW and a few others. These are all direst systems and are installed on every trim level of car, from your cheap aveo to your top of the line merc.

Headline: Tire PMS kills! Story at 11! (3, Funny)

kiick (102190) | about 6 years ago | (#22934906)

Sorry, Couldn't resist.

This isn't an 4/1 joke, is it?

OnStar (1, Redundant)

Digital Anvil (124421) | about 6 years ago | (#22934910)

I knew buying cars with OnStar was going to be bad.

Re:OnStar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935014)

I knew buying cars with OnStar was going to be bad.

Me, I'm waiting until the day vehicular electronics systems begin randomly acheiving sentience. Will they go on a killing spree a la Stephen King's Christine [amazon.com] or will they become your best friend and help you fight crime a la Knightrider? The future is full of creepy car possibilities.

Re:OnStar (2, Interesting)

Intron (870560) | about 6 years ago | (#22935380)

There was a previous article about remote shutdown using OnStar [slashdot.org] which mentioned that OnStar can be used to remotely eavesdrop on your conversations. The OnStar rep didn't answer when I asked them why they included that capability.

Re:OnStar (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 6 years ago | (#22935880)

I don't have onstar, don't know anybody who does, and only know a bit about it. Not too wild about the privacy implications either.

However, one of their advertised features is that if you get in a crash they can initiate a connection and attempt to talk to you--if you can't respond, they can automatically contact police/whoever. I would imagine that's why they have the ability to monitor the ambient sound in your car.

Part of me feels paranoid now... (5, Funny)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#22934942)

Especially this part:
How about an explosive device that sets itself off when the right vehicle passes nearby?
Great, first I have to worry about the tolls on I-44 through Oklahoma, now I got to worry about exploding vehicles?
Maybe in the future we can all roll to work in giant hamster balls. Getting groceries home will be a bitch tho...

Re:Part of me feels paranoid now... (4, Funny)

evil agent (918566) | about 6 years ago | (#22935086)

Maybe in the future we can all roll to work in giant hamster balls. Getting groceries home will be a bitch tho...

Yeah, I learned this the hard way. Just make sure the food is enclosed in metal containers so the hamsters can't get to it.

Re:Part of me feels paranoid now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935562)

I saw that picture of the hamster with giant balls... wait that was a squirrel.

Re:Part of me feels paranoid now... (4, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | about 6 years ago | (#22935418)

When the Red Army Faction assassinated Alfred Herrhausen in 1989, they used a photocell trigger to set off an "IED" in a bicycle bag. It was a superbly precise job which targeted the actual position in the car occupied by Herrhausen.

Fast forward to now. One might scan the sensors on a target vehicle as it drives a common route, emplace IEDs on multiple routes, and break out the popcorn (or pita as the case may be) until the target drives by. This would be ideal for political hits where the target uses a specific armored vehicle.

http://www.german-way.com/aherrhsn.html [german-way.com]

"Maybe in the future we can all roll to work in giant hamster balls."

That would be quite a hamster.

Re:Part of me feels paranoid now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935570)

Yeah, right, like I'm going to do anything that risks pissing off a hamster with balls big enough to roll home in.

Re:Part of me feels paranoid now... (1)

ajft (31124) | about 6 years ago | (#22936160)

Especially this part:
>> How about an explosive device that sets itself off when the right vehicle passes nearby?
> Great, first I have to worry about the tolls on I-44 through Oklahoma, now I got to worry about exploding vehicles?
> Maybe in the future we can all roll to work in giant hamster balls. Getting groceries home will be a bitch tho...

Removing the balls from the giant hamsters isn't exactly a piece of cake either...

Re:Part of me feels paranoid now... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 years ago | (#22936606)

Removing the balls from the giant hamsters isn't exactly a piece of cake either...
Well, except for the miniture giant space hamsters: they don't put up much of a fight (just be careful when they go for the eyes).

RFID tracking (5, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | about 6 years ago | (#22934944)

Tires already come with RFID tags, which can also be read and tracked remotely. Cars probably also emit all sorts of other unique signals that can be recognized and tracked.

Of course, cars also come with this thing called a "license plate", which can also be tracked remotely and wirelessly.

Basically, if you drive, you can be tracked.

President authorizes warrentless tire tapping... (5, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | about 6 years ago | (#22935038)

In the War on Terrorism, the president in his finite capacity for wisdom has authorized any government agency, with at least 3 letters in its acronym, to engage in acts of tire tapping without the need for endless judicial oversite.

The government won't use this information to track you down to that seedy little motel on the side of route 9, where you cavort with no less than 3 women other than your wife. We only care about catching bad guys. Your wife however...

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Re:President authorizes warrentless tire tapping.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935510)

You go home after work (or class, whatever your current activity in life) and find the FBI (at least three letters, right?) digging through your things, with no warrant. You confront them, only to be told that they're just checking for terrorist affiliation. You have none. After a while, they leave. But they've seen every intimate corner of your physical belongings -- without your consent or a judge's authorization, and especially not without cause.

The point of these growing searches is not because the government wants to be able to track the bad guys in this 'age' of increasing terrorism. It's because they want the public to be so afraid, and using terrorism as an excuse works well, that they can simply look through everyone's life at any time. Oh, and in case you haven't realized, everyone is now suspect of terrorism.

Sure they won't use the information to track you down to that little motel off route nine. Well, they might, but they might look the other way past that point. But they may use the information to see where you enter and exit the Interstate (or other monitored road) and correlate the data with nearby 'terrorist' suspects and 'hideouts.' You know, the bar where a government employee happens to stop off for a beer with a couple friends, who work at different places, after work, to have a beer and complain about their day. Jut your luck, that one guy was reported as expressing violent intent. He was quite vocal. Not the one who reported him no longer goes to that bar, and said that several other patrons agreed with him. Now they are all on a watch list. And the bar just so happens to be across from that motel with the women you mentioned. And Rte. 9 is not a monitored road.

It is an extreme example. But if we're in a society that can have an Air Force Captain charged with terroristic acts for buying her ten-year-old son a flight simulator program because the cashier at the local Circuit City is paranoid of terrorism thanks to media fear mongering, then anything is possible to some extent.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | about 6 years ago | (#22935104)

Of course, cars also come with this thing called a "license plate", which can also be tracked remotely and wirelessly.
I don't know about "wirelessly" unless you are talking about people using their eyeballs. Eyesight detection isn't at all efficient and certainly not automated. However, there are non-wireless camera systems that can be used to more automatedly detect license plate numbers. Although, from my understanding, that hasn't really been perfected yet. Using RFID combined with detectors at every street corner will allow for constant surveillance of every car all the time.

Re:RFID tracking (5, Informative)

nguy (1207026) | about 6 years ago | (#22935200)

Using RFID combined with detectors at every street corner will allow for constant surveillance of every car all the time.

So do license plate readers, and they can operate from greater distances and completely passively. Cost for a license plate reader is about the same as a good RFID reader, and they are probably at least as reliable. Furthermore, you are required to keep your license plate readable.

Some cities are already starting to implement complete license plate-based tracking of vehicles.

Re:RFID tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935696)

Furthermore, you are required to keep your license plate readable.
I see so many cars on the road that have the plate in the window behind dirty or tinted glass it is not even funny. Easy solution to the TPMS: get 3rd party wheels without the sensors.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

fredklein (532096) | about 6 years ago | (#22936450)

Cost for a license plate reader is about the same as a good RFID reader, and they are probably at least as reliable. Furthermore, you are required to keep your license plate readable.


London uses license plates to charge you if you drive into the inner city. The solution is simple: get a sheet magnet (http://www.custom-magnets.com/Adhesive_magnet_rolls.htm) and print a fake license plate on paper. Stick the paper to the magnetic sheet, and slap that puppy over your real license plate. Removal is easy, just pull it off. Reusable, and you have plausable deniability, too, since 'anyone' can stick something on the outside of your car....

Try that with the RFID's buried 1 inch deep in your tires.

Re:RFID tracking (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 years ago | (#22935378)

You better tell these guys [platepass.com] because their business is OCR'ing license plates. It's not research. I rent cars from Avis in Orlando fairly regularly and they have this option right now.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | about 6 years ago | (#22935668)

Thanks for the link. I was hesitant to write that it was already out there since I haven't looked into the practical side of the technology for a while. I know about the research, but since I practically live in a cave, I didn't know if distance OCR of license plates was practical yet.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#22935730)

I didn't know if distance OCR of license plates was practical yet.

It isn't. Even the ANPR systems they use in petrol stations to help catch people who drive off without paying have a reliability of about 60%, and they're trying to hit a stationary plate in an approximately known location every time.

I've never seen one that could read the number plate on my car, and that's just a standard (albeit old standard) UK number plate. I've seen an ANPR system get the first three letters and the last letter right, or the two digits and the last letter right, but never the whole thing.

Of course since there are only two cars like it in a city of over a million people, it's never going to be hard to track...

Re:RFID tracking (5, Informative)

afaik_ianal (918433) | about 6 years ago | (#22935530)

Of course, cars also come with this thing called a "license plate", which can also be tracked remotely and wirelessly.

I don't know about "wirelessly" unless you are talking about people using their eyeballs.
On Australian highways (In my state of New South Wales, at least), we have special cameras located on overpasses and things every couple of hundred kilometres or so. These most definitely detect where the number plates are in the image, cut them out, perform OCR, then record the ones that are on trucks. It's used to enforce the laws preventing truckers from driving too far without sleep, and constant speeding.

These cameras have been around for over 10 years, and I assure you, are highly accurate.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

porkmusket (954006) | about 6 years ago | (#22935138)

My car didn't 'come with' a license plate, I had to pay for it afterwards and screw it on myself. I can just as easily unscrew it.

Re:RFID tracking (2, Funny)

taskiss (94652) | about 6 years ago | (#22935292)

Sure, and you will then be denied the privilege of driving on the road that has the sensor that reads your tire pressure.

By George, I think you've got it!

Re:RFID tracking (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | about 6 years ago | (#22935144)

I haven't heard about RFID in tires but even if that's the case, you can always remove or disable them. Doing the same with TPMS will, at best, result in your car constantly bitching about flat/missing tires. Or maybe even violating some new nanny-state law.

Doing any other kind of tracking requires a lot more effort tham putting a primitive scanner under a manhole cover or something.

Re:RFID tracking (2, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | about 6 years ago | (#22935264)

Kinda hard to do without puncturing the tire. Read up on it: here [hanarfid.com] . Michelin at least seems to mount it inside the laminas of the tire.

Of course you could always surround your tires in tin foil if you are THAT paranoid.

Re:RFID tracking (4, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | about 6 years ago | (#22935382)

Kinda hard to do without puncturing the tire. Read up on it: here. Michelin at least seems to mount it inside the laminas of the tire.

Of course you could always surround your tires in tin foil if you are THAT paranoid.
I hear that microwaving your tires for 15 seconds each will also disable the RFID tags.

Re:RFID tracking (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935522)

What I am worried about is the RFID tags embedded in Reynolds Wrap.

Get outta town (1)

AssTard (684911) | about 6 years ago | (#22935236)

I am guarnateed totally 100% anonymity anywhere I go in public! It's a guarnateed right in the USA Constitution. Don't give me any of this "I can see you" bS!!!!!!!!

Re:Get outta town (2, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 6 years ago | (#22935560)

I am guarnateed totally 100% anonymity anywhere I go in public! It's a guarnateed right in the USA Constitution. Don't give me any of this "I can see you" bS!!!!!!!!
Being seen and identified by a person or agent of the government on the street is one thing - that's how its been for thousands of years.

Having every movement of every person on the street automatically recorded, indexed and cataloged into nationwide databases without the any human intervention is a completely different matter - that's a recipe for totalitarianism.

Right now, we are rapidly barreling down the road from how its been for thousands of years to the ultimate totalitarian state with very little good to show for it beyond political rhetoric.

Re:Get outta town (1)

AssTard (684911) | about 6 years ago | (#22936210)

Gee chuck, maybe you oughta switch to decaf, what? You're paranoid. I'm gonna gitcha! hahaha haha aha ha LOL!

Re:Get outta town (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 6 years ago | (#22936438)

Gee chuck, maybe you oughta switch to decaf, what? You're paranoid. I'm gonna gitcha! hahaha haha aha ha LOL!
Why would I worry about you?
You aren't smart enough to ever end up in a position to abuse the system.

Re:RFID tracking (4, Insightful)

Introspective (71476) | about 6 years ago | (#22935252)

Basically, if you drive, you can be tracked.
No. Certain objects attached to the car might be able to be tracked. There is a big difference between tracking tires, license plates, etc. and tracking people. A distinction which most posters seem to have ignored in their paranoia.

Re:RFID tracking (3, Insightful)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about 6 years ago | (#22935466)

Mostly because it's a distinction that's sure to be ignored by law-enforcement types too. Ever recieved a photo-radar, red light or toll-evasion ticket? It doesn't matter who was driving, if your car was at the scene of the crime you're responsible for the fine.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

gatzke (2977) | about 6 years ago | (#22935362)

Basically, if you drive, you can be tracked.
That is why I walk everywhere.

Without shoes.

Or clothes.

Except for my tinfoil hat.

Re:RFID tracking (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935882)

you didn't use purchased tin foil did you? what about the rfid embedded in that?

Re:RFID tracking (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 6 years ago | (#22935588)

"Tires already come with RFID tags, which can also be read and tracked remotely."

Not much range on such scanners.

"Cars probably also emit all sorts of other unique signals that can be recognized and tracked."

Car electronics systems are well understood. Only a system with a car-specific signature that emitted a strong enough signal would be practical to exploit.

"Of course, cars also come with this thing called a "license plate", which can also be tracked remotely and wirelessly."

License plate scanners must have line-of-sight to the license plate to work. If you have a line-of-sight view of your target it's toast, but such scanners are bulky and expensive.

"Basically, if you drive, you can be tracked."

By the government, of course. I'm not fond of tech that is easy for non-government folks to exploit _either_.

Re:RFID tracking (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 years ago | (#22936258)

RFID range is largely a matter of how sensitive your receiver and antenna are. RFIDS put out approximately 250 microwatts of power. According to this [surrey.ac.uk] , a 1 microwatt transmitter has a range of 45km. So with a good antenna and receiver, I don't see reading RFIDS from a hundred metres away to be much of a problem.

Re:RFID tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22936340)

License plate OCR allow you to be identified once found. RFID allows your vehicle to be immobilized (think On-Star) even if disguised, plates obscured with mud, etc. In a city-sized array of sensors, you could send a signal to all sensors to immobilize this vehicle and call in if the car came anywhere near any of the sensors ... it's somewhat more difficult if you're just watching license plates.

Don't simply think of tracking the vehicle, think of doing something with it....

I Posted About This (1, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 years ago | (#22934956)

Extensively, on /. a couple of years back - with relevant links. Naturally, I was "troll modded" to -1, while also growing a flaming trail of replies, some dozen long.

I'd like to see MedicatedDad's post to the front page as vindication, but it IS April 1st...

Tin Foil Hats!!! (1)

muindaur (925372) | about 6 years ago | (#22934976)

Time to break out the tin foil hats so they can't read my tire pressures.

Re:Tin Foil Hats!!! (2, Funny)

dfm3 (830843) | about 6 years ago | (#22935158)

Time to break out the tin foil hats so they can't read my tire pressures.

Um, don't you mean tin foil rims?

OMG, ponies! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22934978)

Seriously, where's my tinfoil hat?

Cheney Holds Congress As Hostage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935008)


and threatens to nuke Canada.

News At 11.

Hmmm.... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 6 years ago | (#22935016)

How about an explosive device that sets itself off when the right vehicle passes nearby?

Outside of Lebanon, I don't see this as being a huge concern. (And calling it a "privacy" issue seems a bit of an understatement.) The local governments aren't sufficiently motivated to fill potholes, let alone install IEDs specifically targeted at me.

Re:Hmmm.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935356)

Assuming you live some place like I do, you're right: spend $10,000 to fix some potholes by filling them in with that patch stuff that comes out in two days? No.

Spend several million dollars on a surveillance program so that they can track drivers and charge them extra taxes for daring to use the roads instead of the frequently late, often overcrowded, and incredibly slow public transportation? Hell yes!

(Spending said money on improving public transportation so people might use it? Hell no!)

An easier solution... (2, Insightful)

porkmusket (954006) | about 6 years ago | (#22935018)

Remove the sensors and ignore the warning light. It's how I do things when I've got the winter wheels on, because I didn't feel like spending $400 for another set of sensors.

The "solution" is not so simple. (2, Insightful)

hedronist (233240) | about 6 years ago | (#22935024)

"Fortunately the problem is easy to fix: encrypt TPMS data the way keyless entry systems do."

Unfortunately, there is a major difference here: failure to encrypt keyless entry resulted in stolen cars (something which caught people's attention and pissed them off), whereas you'll never even notice that your TPMS isn't encrypted. People are incredibly lazy and only take action when they perceive a threat to their person or property. Liberty? As Dick Cheney would say, "So?"

I'll bet adding encryption would cost the manufacturers $0.01 per tire (or some equally trivial amount), which they will claim will ruin them. Nobody else (except for a bunch of whiny, personal liberty freaks) will care about this and it will quietly become ubiquitous.

Besides, if you aren't doing anything illegal, why should you care who takes note of your comings and goings. We're here to help you and we certainly can't do that unless we know where you are ... at all times ...

Re:The "solution" is not so simple. (2, Interesting)

John Whitley (6067) | about 6 years ago | (#22935422)

People are incredibly lazy and only take action when they perceive a threat to their person or property. Liberty?
While I understand your frustration, I think it's ultimately misleading to tag people as "lazy" here. Misleading precisely because I tend to agree with you: most folk are "lazy", but that the term is so loaded with negative connotation that it stops further inquiry. Human beings are likey terribly poorly adapted to understanding and reacting to these kinds of threats. Many modern threats are really pretty damn abstract (to an essentially hunter-gatherer mind, anyhow) and require a fair bit of abstract thinking, education, and information to grasp. This presents a huge social risk to be managed: if many modern threats, incidental or deliberate, are difficult for people to properly assess.. our decisions as a society will be distorted dangerously as a result.

I've recently seen reference to work discussing threat perception along these lines, but unfortunately quick searches aren't dredging it up right now. Handy references, anyone?

Re:The "solution" is not so simple. (4, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 6 years ago | (#22935468)

The solution is even easier than encryption. Just don't broadcast a unique identifier!

In this case there's no reason for each tire pressure sensor to be broadcasting one. All they need to do is chirp back the pressure inside the tire. That's it. Give them enough power to hit a receiver located in the wheel (which might be 4-6" away in a very large tire, probably a lot closer than that, and it's all inside the steel-belted tire) and call it a day. Unless you are playing Ben Hur, you're not going to get close enough to another car's tires for it to become a problem -- use a high frequency and you're going to get a substantial bit of attenuation via the tire itself, and then you're decreasing as the square of the distance through free space. You're never going to have more than one valve-stem sensor per wheel-mounted receiver, so why bother with it?

If you really do need a weak form of identification, rather than hardcoding a UID, it would be pretty trivial to have each sensor randomly choose a number from a range such that the chance of collisions was low (deriving the randomness from resistor noise or by oversampling whatever analog sensor they use to determine pressure) and reset periodically or each time the car is started. That eliminates the problem of having to coordinate UIDs and prevent duplicates (cf. the cheap Bluetooth transceivers that caused problems because their MAC-ish addresses were all zeros). Every unit can be completely identical.

On further consideration, I can't really imagine why the designers of the TPMS would have given each sensor a UID (especially since it would probably cause confusion when you rotate tires, if the car's computer tracks them) ... making me wonder if this is just an elaborate 4/1 hoax.

Choose your role models carefully (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935042)

KeeLoq has been cracked recently. The wireless access control system is used in vehicles built by Chrysler, Daewoo, Fiat, General Motors, Honda, Toyota (Lexus), Volvo, Volkswagen and Jaguar. All it takes to get access is to record two messages, which can be done from up to 300 feet away. http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/105772 [heise.de]

April fools! (1)

sprins (717461) | about 6 years ago | (#22935044)

Of course this is an April fools joke. The VIN isn't included in the radio signals of the TPMS sensors!

Identification does not need VIN (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | about 6 years ago | (#22935484)

All you need is to be able to track the tyre ids.

Re:Identification does not need VIN (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 years ago | (#22936476)

That is not "identification." If I were to drive past a sensor that had no prior knowledge of me, there is absolutely no way they would know who I am. The "identification" part takes place elsewhere, and this could, at most, be used for tracking.

Alternatively... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935048)

Fortunately the problem is easy to fix: encrypt TPMS data the way keyless entry systems do.


Or get rid of the nanny state law requiring TPMS. They give drivers a false sense of security regarding their tires, help them to justify paying even less attention to the state of their cars and required maintenance, cost everyone money (even if they don't want one), add unsprung weight to the vehicle, and apparently cause security issues.

Good 'ole "Know what's best for its citizens - especially when reacting to a few tragic incidents that catch the media's eye" federal government.

Man arrested for driving while underinflated! (1)

duffetta (660874) | about 6 years ago | (#22935152)

Sorry, officer, I didn't realize that my tires were underinflated.

Can we get a car analogy for this? (4, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | about 6 years ago | (#22935268)

I'm having trouble grasping the concepts, can someone put it into a nice analogy using cars? What... wait... damnit.

Okay, now this pisses me off. (0, Flamebait)

ElGanzoLoco (642888) | about 6 years ago | (#22935318)

How about an explosive device that sets itself off when the right vehicle passes nearby?

Okay, so there are probably some actual privacy issues arising from being able to track passing vehicles remotely, but come on, that comment above is so over the top it's not even funny.

The bearded men with the funny accent are not out to get you. The black helicopters are not after you, or your car, or your gun(s). And officials / VIPs actually at risk of being blown up by an IED - not that I know any off the top of my head - would have the radio signal jammed anyways.

Grow. The. Fuck. Up. Seriously.

(okay, or maybe it's april fools, and I'm drunk and didn't note the sarcasm / joke in the ferkin' summary)

Re:Okay, now this pisses me off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935574)

I dunno, compared to the explody liquids on airplanes nonsense, that threat almost makes sense.

Bubbling up from the lower levels (2, Interesting)

Apotsy (84148) | about 6 years ago | (#22935414)

Here's a guy posting about a very similar subject on this site a while ago:

Not sure how many people took it seriously at the time, but it sounds like it's getting more and more towards mainstream awareness, especially with this new system. 20 years from now, could a person move around at all, on foot or otherwise, without the powers that be knowing about it?

ABS Sensor (2, Interesting)

kd5ujz (640580) | about 6 years ago | (#22935428)

I am not sure about the new mandate ( assuming its not an April fools joke), but the TPS sensor on my work car (2001 Alero) is the same sensor used for the anti-lock brakes. The ABS computer reads the ABS sensors, and any sensor that is spinning faster than the other three tires is assumed to be a flat tire ( lower diameter causes higher RPMs for a given surface speed).

TPS Report Cover Sheet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22935892)

Didn't you get the memo...?

Re:ABS Sensor (1)

geedra (1009933) | about 6 years ago | (#22936330)

On the new Evo X, the sensor is part of the special TPS-equipped valve stem. I haven't read up on the details, but there's no way that data is being transmitted 100% over a wired connection.

problems going away (1)

alxkit (941262) | about 6 years ago | (#22935612)

"If they add functionality to encrypt the communication channel, the problem will go away."

no it will not. someone will always have a key. if a bomb is REALLY meant to go off - it will.

Probably not a 4/1 story. (3, Informative)

gardyloo (512791) | about 6 years ago | (#22935766)

Here (at the end of this post) is the text of the applicable document summarizing the TREAD act.
http://www.tireindustry.org/pdf/TREAD_Act_Summary.pdf [tireindustry.org]

    Looks to me that no one is requiring continual monitoring (and reporting) of tires' conditions; only when the tire pressure falls below 25% of recommended cold pressure is a signal required to be sent (and I see nothing about being able to tell which car in a fleet has the problem from outside the car itself).

    Finally, article summary should say "all NEW vehicles sold in the US" require the system, not "all vehicles sold in the US".

The final rule was published June 5, 2002. Unfortunately NHTSA
proposed that if a vehicle is using a direct system (with sensors in each
tire sending a signal to the dashboard) the TPMS does not have to trigger
until the tire is 25 percent below the recommended cold psi. An indirect
TPMS (that runs off the anti-lock braking system) does not have to
trigger until the tire is 30 percent below the recommended cold psi for
that tire. TIA is strongly opposed to NHTSA's supposed "safety"
regulation which in effect allows the motoring public to drive on severely
underinflated tires. TIA has supported a petition that NHTSA mandate
reserve inflation pressure in tires to offset the TPMS rule. [See letter to
NHTSA supporting petition.]

plausibly deniable skullduggery (1)

spacefiddle (620205) | about 6 years ago | (#22936138)

i see three levels of issue here - the first one is, assuming no one reads the data who isn't "supposed to," and no one who is supposed to ever abuses that information access, what are the privacy implications?

Secondly, what if the authorized yet fallible humans with access to this data abuse it?

Thirdly, and the one that IMHO needs to be addressed first, is when those who are unauthorized are able to access the information. Not just for the obvious reasons: hacking this info may or may not be easy/feasible/desirable/whatever. But because now those mere-mortal humans who would be authorized and accountable, and already know the system, would be able to not just abuse that information, but leave no trail. Or blame ebil terrists and h4x0rs for it, even better.

Consider: yes, there could be a physical threat, but i'm more worried about yet another vector of information harvesting and tracking. Hello, Mr. Political Dissident, where do you drive? With whom do you associate? How long were you parked there? With sufficient coverage, can i track you in real time like an involuntary GPS?

If employees with access would poke through candidates' passport files, what would they try to get away with THIS in place? (That sound you hear is the Secret Service twitching. I imagine any and all official gummint vehicles have this system neutered - or at least i would HOPE so!)

Bad enough i have to deal with people tracking me online. There is no benefit and no excuse to having this information broadcast in the clear. Bottom line, any system that's approved and authorized to get this info could still get it (and whether we'd want that is another debate) - but don't force me to make it easy and unaccountable.

The article missed something (1)

TwoStep (36482) | about 6 years ago | (#22936222)

There are 2 main reasons you want properly inflated tires:
1) Safety (mentioned in the article)
2) Fuel economy. Proper tire pressure can result in a 5-10% increase in MPG.

Encryption may not help. (1)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#22936318)

Encryption will allow you to keep them from knowing what your tire pressure is, but you'd need to have the signal anonymized as well to keep someone from fingerprinting it.

shict! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22936472)

BSD's acclaimed been the best, to avoid so as to NIGGER community number of FreeBSD so that their parts. The current

Shut up your car! (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 6 years ago | (#22936514)

I see a very simple solution to this:

1. Remove tires
2. Smash TPMS
3. Mail smashed TPMS pieces to automaker, lawmaker, and those asshats at the NHTSA
4. ???
5. Profit!?

My view is if drivers are too retarded to perform basic maintenance like checking their tire pressure and oil dips, they shouldn't be allowed to operate a vehicle. We didn't use to have so many road problems back when there were fewer people on the road. Someone lowered the barriers to entry and now we've got millions of idiots driving 3-ton battering rams.

How the new TPMS sensors work. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22936566)

Basically, the new mandated TPMS sensors are all direct sensors. These sensors have been mandated as of the 2007 model year on all cars sold in the US. (There are a large number of cars sold in Canada that use this system too, but it is not mandated in Canada). Indirect systems (the ones that use the ABS sensors) are not allowed under the mandate as they were deemed too inaccurate. The TPM system is mandated to notify the driver once there is a 25% loss of pressure from nominal from the tire. Many systems also indicate a high pressure warning also.

Most car companies have been developing the technology for over a decade. GM started in the mid 90's on the corvette.

Most systems use a pressure sensor internally mounted to the rim on the valve stem. The valve stem acts as the antenna for the transmitter. (Look for cars with aluminum coloured valve stems, these are TPMS equiped vehicles.) The transmitter will transmit at the same frequency as your key FOB. This allows the car companies to minimize the amount of extra equipment required for the system. Most systems probably only require the sensors and a reprogramming of the requisit computers in the car.

Pay close attention to the shop that changes your tires. Many shops are poorly trained in dealing with TPMS sensors and tell many lies about the systems as they don't understand how they work.

The sensors typically operate under a pretty simple algorithm. Basically, when the car is stationary the sensors will transmit every hour. If the car starts moving above a certain speed they sensors will start to transmit every minute. If the pressure in the tire suddenly changes more then a certain amount, the sensor will transmit the new pressure immeditatly. Each sensor has a unique ID to permit the computer to identify which corresponds to which pressure. The car's computer will be programmed to listen for these transimssions. Should the car fail to receive a transmission from a specifc tire over a certain period of time, then the computer will indicate there is a malfunction of the system.

Because the sensors have unique IDs it is typically required to relearn the sensor locations after a tire rotation. There are many different releasern procedures. You can set the car into learn mode and triger each sensor by letting air you of the tires or you can use a specific TPMS tool to triger the sensors using a LF magnetic field.

These systems are all pretty straight forward once you know how they work. Most people are afraid of new technology, but in most respects this is pretty simple stuff that any modern mechanic should have no problem working with.

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