Nissan’s connected car app offline after trivial to exploit vulnerability revealed

On Wednesday Nissan disabled an app that allowed owners of its electric Leaf car to control their cars’ heating and cooling from their phones, after the Australian researcher Troy Hunt showed he could use it to control others’ cars as well.

The NissanConnect EV app, formerly called CarWings, enabled a remote hacker to access the Leaf’s temperature controls and review its driving record, merely by knowing the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number).

The app will turn the climate control on or off—it decided not to bother requiring any kind of authentication. When a Leaf owner connects to their car via a smartphone, the only information that Nissan’s APIs use to target the car is its VIN—the requests are all anonymous.

Those are the findings of Troy Hunt and Scott Helme, who published their findings on Wednesday. Thursday, Nissan took the service offline.



In order to speed up the release, they had to cut corners. Well, they cut the wrong corners.

These are the rules of connecting apps to a backend:

  • always use encrypted connections
  • authenticate the client
  • authorize the client (which is different than the authentication) to access various functions
  • filter and validate the incoming data



© Copyright 2016 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca
Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since over 20 years in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is CEO and owner of Endpoint Cybersecurity GmbH focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .
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