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Finding a $Billion Dollar Fault Mode

Written by Colin O'Flynn
Using EMFI Analysis Claims of improper software design related to the electronic throttle system have cost Toyota several billion dollars in settlements, government fines and other business losses. Yet the exact fault hasn’t been recreated, even though at least one candidate exists in the code. In this article, Colin explores using electromagnetic fault injection (EMFI), often used in security analysis, to try and trigger a fault mode in a similar vehicle computer to the one implicated in the Toyota lawsuit. Topics Discussed How to use EMFI to try and trigger a fault mode in a similar vehicle computer to the one implicated in the Toyota lawsuit.What was the Toyota ETCS-i issue?How previous simulated environment tests worked?How to use EMFI for safety testingHow to build the benchtop test systemWhat are the relevant auto safety standards?How to introduce and EMFI soft attack? Tech Used Renesas RH850 MCUNXP MPC565Throttle bodyAccelerator pedal sensor, Ignition switch and start buttonSimulator to generate the CAM and crank signalsOBD-II readerOscilloscope Depending on where you are in the world, you may or may not have heard of the extensive “unintended acceleration” issues faced by Toyota starting in 2009. In most cases, drivers claimed that their cars suddenly “took off” on them—that is, the car started accelerating. And because such a wide-open throttle may change the brake pedal feel due to loss of power braking, drivers had trouble stopping the cars. A series of dueling narratives have been put forward, the first being from Toyota. The company maintained that it was either driver error (in a near-miss, with your heart pounding, maybe you catch the accelerator pedal while trying to brake) or a physical issue, such as the floor mat catching the pedal. The second narrative was related to how the throttle control worked, which was a (relatively) new electronic system at the time. An increase in unintended acceleration complaints co
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Finding a $Billion Dollar Fault Mode

by Colin O'Flynn time to read: 13 min