Sunday Nerding: Resurrect Your Old C64

Posted Posted in Technology

Hands up if your first computer was a Commodore 64?

Mine certainly was, but like many examples of this popular computer, it has seen better days. I’m not sure if it even works anymore. The last time I tried it – (about 10 years ago) – the sound chip had failed but otherwise seemed okay.

I would love to get the old beast up and running, but my electronics repair skills are basic at best. Parts for a Commodore 64 are also going to be hard to find.

I don’t even want to think about the state of the mechanical disk drive or tape unit.

Never fear – with the help of modern technology, you can retrofit your old C64 – and it is easier than you might think.

And you know what? I’m going to do it!

Quickshot: Qantas Friday

Posted Posted in Quickshots

An advantage of working near Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport is having the opportunity to do a little plane spotting, and today it was Qantas day.

At lunch today, I watched VH-VZH (Boeing 737-838) take off for Adelaide, and VH-EBC (Airbus A330-202) take off for Perth.

VH-VZH
VH-VZH, operating QF687, Melbourne (MEL) to Adelaide (ADL), 14/09/2018
VH-EBC
VH-EBC, operating QF769, Melbourne (MEL) to Perth (PER), 14/09/2018

Tesla Key Fob Hack – Are We Too Clever?

Posted Posted in Technology

The recently revealed vulnerability enabling hackers to trivially duplicate Tesla Model S key fobs, in my mind prompts an interesting technology question.

The Hack in a Nutshell

This does not apply to all Model S vehicles, but in simple terms, using a few hundred dollars of off-the-shelf radio and computer hardware, malicious actors can intercept transmissions from your key fob when nearby.

Using the intercepted data and about two seconds of computational power, they are able to duplicate your key fob.

This allows them to open your Tesla Model S, start your Tesla Model S, and drive your Tesla Model S away.

Noting that the cryptographic keys in use are only 40-bit keys, quoting from the Wired article:

The researchers found that once they gained two codes from any given key fob, they could simply try every possible cryptographic key until they found the one that unlocked the car. They then computed all the possible keys for any combination of code pairs to create a massive, 6-terabyte table of pre-computed keys. With that table and those two codes, the hackers say they can look up the correct cryptographic key to spoof any key fob in just 1.6 seconds.

The High-Tech Solution

To solve this vulnerability, Tesla are recommending a firmware update to the security systems in the Model S.

After unlocking the car and disabling the immobiliser system with the key fob, drivers would now need to enter a PIN on the console of the car before they can start it.

This provides rudimentary two-factor authentication, and is probably a reasonable solution to the problem, albeit lowering convenience for the owner.

Until the hackers figure out how to bypass the PIN code – and if the carrot is dangled, they will try.

Hackers are typically highly intelligent people who crave the challenge.

So, what else could we do?

The Lower-Tech Solution

As humans, how did we cope with unlocking our cars and starting them up before remote key fobs?

We coped, and we coped very well.

People walked up to their cars, and put the key in the door. They got inside and put the key in the ignition, and were on their way.

Why aren’t we still doing this?

Key systems without radio transmitters can still contain security codes, which could be read by the car when the key comes into physical contact with it.

All without broadcasting the security codes for hackers to scan and potentially use against you.

It would be harder to steal your car – and would our lives be that much more difficult if we stepped back to something like this?

Sometimes simple proven ideas are far better for us than fancy new ideas that haven’t been completely thought through.