[Cryptography] Wrongware: was VW/EPA tests as crypto protocols ?

Ray Dillinger bear at sonic.net
Thu Sep 24 21:11:35 EDT 2015

On 09/24/2015 09:09 AM, Henry Baker wrote:
> By now, you've all heard of the VW SW that cheats/defeats the EPA testing protocol.
> But VW isn't alone, and expect further revelations as the white hats start investigating these types of misbehavin' SW.
> So what's a regulator to do?

I'm making up a new term.  The term is wrongware.  Wrongware
means software that is deliberately wrong, which is provided
by the exact people from whom a faithful (rather than wrong)
implementation is expected, specifically to cause misbehavior
that they find desirable for whatever reason.

There are more than a few cases of wrongware that have
already been discovered.  Because the security challenges
are different from other categories, I think we need a
distinct named category for it as a security issue.

"Wrongware" would encompass the misbehaving VWs that deliberately
cheat on EPA tests.  It would also describe, eg, deliberate
backdoors installed by a router manufacturer to enable
surreptitious access, deliberate vulnerabilities in operating
systems, USB or disk controllers, deliberately installed
vulnerabilities in computer BIOSes, "updates" released by a
software vendor that secretly disable or cripple its own
product, etc.

As to the case in point:  I think this particular wrongware can
be reasonably easily defeated.

Develop a self-contained exhaust probe that can live on batteries
for a few days.  Stick it to the tailpipe using aluminum speed
tape with tamper-resistant seals, with its tip sticking into the
tailpipe.  Let the owner drive around normally for a few days,
then remove the device and download the data.

It would make it very hard to hide misbehavior, especially on a
very large scale.  Yes, some car owners would deliberately cheat,
but a lot of them would get caught cheating, and it would require
only a small fraction of the car owners to cooperate with the
testing regime to conclusively reveal any deliberate misbehavior
caused by wrongware.

In fact you could reveal wrongware by using this "extended testing"
regime on only a randomly selected one percent of the cars.

You'd want to do a few other things too, like NOT making the exact
date of the next test predictable or publicly available, because
if the wrongware can tell when it's being tested by reading the
time and date, its attack succeeds.


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