Someone Remotely Hacked A Segway Scooter

Strapping on a helmet and jumping on the back of a Segway is a popular way for many tourists to take in the sights on vacation. But could your next encounter with such a group involve runaway scooters? It’s possible after a researcher was able to hack into the popular electric scooter and operate it without the help of a rider.

Wired reports that researcher Thomas Kilbride discovered vulnerabilities in the Segway MiniPro self-balancing scooter and the corresponding mobile app that could allow hackers to bypass safety protections and take control of the device.

Finding Vulnerabilities

The Segway MiniPro app uses Bluetooth to connect to the scooter, allowing users to control the device from their phones, turn it off, and update the scooter’s firmware.

But Kilbride says that while looking through the app, he found that the PIN meant to protect the Bluetooth communication from unauthorized access wasn’t actually being used for authentication at every level, Wired reports.

This, Kilbride says, allows others to arbitrarily send commands to the scooter without the PIN.

To make matters worse, Kilbride tells Wired that the MiniPro’s software update system didn’t have a program in place that confirmed firmware was actually from Segway, and not a ne’er-do-well.

What’s This Mean?

This all boils down to the fact that the MiniPro app is vulnerable to hacks, Kilbride said.

For instance, because the firmware updates don’t include integrity checks, hackers could trick a device into installing malicious firmware that overrides its traditional programming.

If this occurs, Wired points out, the hacker could turn off the remote-control capabilities of the app and simply take over the device, driving it, stopping it, or turning it off.

“Under the right circumstances, if somebody applies a malicious firmware update, any attacker who knows the right assembly language could then leverage this to basically do as they wish with the hoverboard,” Kilbride tells Wired.

Making Changes

Kilbride shared his findings with Segway back in January. Since then the company says it has addressed the issues through an April update.

To remedy the possible vulnerabilities, Wired reports that Segway added cryptographic signing to validate firmware updates, and has taken steps to evaluated Bluetooth security.

Additionally, the company discontinued a Rider Nearby function that acted as a social network of sorts, showing riders other riders who were nearby.

Other Hacks

The Segway MiniPro isn’t the only motorized vehicles to have hacking vulnerabilities. Connected cars have increasingly become vulnerable to hack attacks.

In March 2016, the FBI warned carmakers and owners that their vehicles were quickly gaining residence on hacker’s lists.

That warning was issued about a year after the very public hacking of a Jeep that eventually led to the recall of more than 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles

Since then, in June 2016, security researchers revealed one such issue in the Mitsubishi Outlander that allows would-be hackers to turn off the car’s alarms.

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