Continuing in the line of CANBus research and tools release I’d like to announce some quick work on a proof-of-concept CANBus IPS called, unoriginally, the CANBus Protector. I took some time to work on defense of CAN after conducting a lot of vulnerability research in recent weeks.

The trouble with trying to defend insecure by design protocols is that you can’t. CANBus is a protocol that cannot be done correctly….ever. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in stating so. When considering defensive security methods there really is only one design that makes any sense.

CANBus protector is a system built on two separate pieces of hardware that use one-way communication to get information out of the “trusted” vehicle network. The only way I could see protecting the bus was to create a “server” which would sit on the actual CAN and perform the queries for vehicle information. This is done through standard set of OBDII queries made by the server (e.g. Vehicle Speed, RPM, VIN, etc). Future expansion of the project would include more queries and manufacturer specific information. The server then publishes that information via one-way communication to a “client”. The client sets up an entirely separate CANBus where any third party systems would sit. These third party systems requiring vehicle information would not be aware they are not speaking to the actual vehicle network.

This limits the attack surface by removing the risk of third party dongles plugged into a vehicle OBDII port. This device does not attempt to address the vehicle manufacturer itself attaching a network-enabled system directly to the CAN (which is happening). That particular action cannot be protected against except by vehicle manufacturers. The best one could hope for out of a third party solution is alert the user if a certain type of message is seen on the bus. If that message is malicious, however, it may be too late. It could certainly work as a “black box” of sorts though. Hmm…perhaps vehicle CAN forensics will be the next project.

If you are so inclined you can download the source and create your own CANBus Protector. The repo can be found at

Happy Hacking,