How to stop a boosted board

Hackers can stop electric skateboards at full speed

IT security experts recently demonstrated how a Tesla Model S can be brought to a standstill by a hack while driving. Two safety researchers from the USA succeeded in doing something similar, one size smaller: they were able to manipulate an electric skateboard in such a way that it brakes while driving and throws the rider off.

Manipulate Bluetooth signals

Richo Healy, a developer specializing in payment security at the US company Stripe, and Mike Ryan, who is responsible for network security at eBay, presented their research results at the Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas last Saturday. "Wired" has already spoken to them beforehand.

Together, the developers have developed a tool called FacePlant that can be used to manipulate the Bluetooth signals from an electric skateboard. The speed and alignment of the electrically powered skateboards can be controlled using an app and a remote control that the driver always has in his hand. When the remote control is released, the board stops. The connection is made via Bluetooth.

With models from the manufacturers Boosted, Revo and Yuneec, the developers discovered that communication between the boards and the remote control is not encrypted. Attackers could not only force the skateboards to stop or accelerate with a hack - a change of direction or switching off the brakes is also conceivable. The settings could also be changed with a manipulated firmware, such as the maximum and minimum speed.

Software update for boosted boards announced

Healy got the idea when he was thrown off an e-board himself. His skateboard suddenly stopped at an intersection in Melbourne, Australia. Upon closer inspection, he found that other Bluetooth signals had interfered with his connection.

So far, FacePlant only works with the electric skateboard from Boosted; Exploits for the models of the other manufacturers are in the works. The manufacturer was made aware of the vulnerability by the two developers last year and supported them in their research, as announced in a blog entry. A software update should fix the vulnerability shortly.

"You could say 'it's just a skateboard', of course, but for people who buy these boards and ride them every day there is an obvious risk. We specifically did the research to make the devices safer," said Healey. Wired ". Not only electric skateboards could be affected. The security experts suspect that this could also be the case with some e-bikes. (br, 8/9/2015)