New cybersecurity measures are locking aftermarket tuners out of car systems

Jimmy2x

Posts: 146   +12
Staff
Why it matters: Automakers have embraced the benefits of living in a connected world, with real-time data transfers and over-the-air updates becoming the standard in today's new vehicles. But with every network connection comes the potential for cyber criminals to exploit a security vulnerability. As automakers respond to these evolving threats, aftermarket enthusiasts find themselves slowly losing their ability to modify OEM equipment.

Ford Mustang aftermarket enthusiasts may soon find it harder to make performance modifications to their vehicles thanks to Ford's new fully networked vehicle (FNV) architecture. The electrical architecture, which allows the automaker to deliver over-the-air (OTA) updates, will likely also encrypt the vehicle's electronic control unit (ECU) in a way that renders previous modification methods ineffective.

The enhanced encryption standard is a necessary response to the ever-evolving threat posed by hackers looking for new ways to access a vehicle's control systems, driver information records, or communication and location systems. Unfortunately, the encryption also impacts the ability of existing aftermarket flash and piggyback tuners to successfully augment factory ECU input and output signals.

According to Mustang chief engineer Ed Krenz, Ford's FNV architecture has the ability to detect when a user attempts to alter any of the vehicle's programmed signals or encoded instructions. Once detected, FNV will take actions ranging from shutting down the specific system being altered to shutting down the vehicle altogether.

Aftermarket tuners and performance enthusiasts have traditionally relied on altering these signals in order to maximize the performance of upgraded engine, driveline, and braking components. The inability to alter these signals limits the potential effectiveness of future engine and driveline component upgrades. Regardless of how advanced the installed parts may be, drivers would likely never experience the full potential of their upgrades without the ability to alter the specific signal and inputs required for their operation.

Ford has said it is open to working with third-party tuners to provide the access needed to tune and calibrate upgraded vehicles. While this may bode well for larger, well-established Ford collaborators such as Roush Performance and the Shelby Performance Center, it could make research, development, and sales far more expensive (or even unattainable) for smaller, more specialized aftermarket performance shops that lack the same brand recognition and financial backing.

Automotive technology will continue to get faster, more complex, and provide more opportunities to interact with the world around us. And the problem of enhanced security isn't exclusive to Ford alone. There's no question that the aftermarket performance industry will evolve and adapt to these changes as they always have, but the increasing levels of complexity and effort required have the potential to seriously reshape the aftermarket performance landscape.

Permalink to story.

 

Rocky4040

Posts: 144   +174
This is nothing more than a money grab and they are using the cyberattack prevention excuse. Now that we have seen at least 2 car companies and probably more than I am aware of using the subscription route to allow the car owner to either have all of the bought and paid for options in their new cars, but the car companies can pay for heated seated or steering wheel. Oh, and if you want the full performance well that's $1200 USD a year for that option to be enabled. The Car makers seem to forget when you buy something and spend $40K-$300K on a car you're paying for the whole car and all of its options that were listed on the spec sheet and not having to keep on paying a monthly subscription for those options. What's next a 1-day warranty and if you want more you pay monthly sub for the next 5 years.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,957   +7,004
This is nothing more than a money grab and they are using the cyberattack prevention excuse. Now that we have seen at least 2 car companies and probably more than I am aware of using the subscription route to allow the car owner to either have all of the bought and paid for options in their new cars, but the car companies can pay for heated seated or steering wheel. Oh, and if you want the full performance well that's $1200 USD a year for that option to be enabled. The Car makers seem to forget when you buy something and spend $40K-$300K on a car you're paying for the whole car and all of its options that were listed on the spec sheet and not having to keep on paying a monthly subscription for those options. What's next a 1-day warranty and if you want more you pay monthly sub for the next 5 years.
The car makers have seen the silly money being printed by the likes of mobile gaming and figure "you know, if consumers are this gullible I bet they'll subscribe to our garbage".

And who could blame them? The gaming industry has printed literal billions on the back of consoomers and other industries are doing the same thing. And given the way subscriber whales work, if they can get 10% of their customer base to do it they'll print bucko bucks.
 

Dr Roboto

Posts: 64   +156
If you did not know, "The global automotive aftermarket industry size was valued at USD $408.5 BILLION in 2021." Clearly not all of that is mustang performance, but it is still a very big market for the mustang. No way is Ford going to ignore that. Aftermarket modification is what built the Mustang brand. The question is, are they trying to take it all for themselves or are they just trying to take a bigger piece of the pie. I think the evolution of the software and additional security was inevitable. The questions is how will Ford play this with aftermarket tuners. Ford has tried to be in the tuning game in the past and failed. Maybe the other comments are right and they are trying it again wanting to emulate Mercedes and game developers. Lets hope not.

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Here is my personal experience with Ford and aftermarket modifications of the years. Sorry that it is so long. I guess I had more to say than I thought.

20 years ago, I developed aftermarket electronics to modify mustangs. It was a interesting time around 2000 when mustangs went all in on modern electronics from the ignition (COP), sensors, traction control, etc. Many old school gear heads cried foul and even the large companies did not have solutions to simple things like adding a tachometer. I was a young electrical engineer at the time, and found it a fun challenge to be the first to build and sell electronic devices to enable workarounds for many of these "new fangled" electronics of the mustang (disable/add memory for the traction control, add a tachometer or shift light, fixed speedo for gear changes, support for aftermarket exhaust/cats, sequential turn signals). It was a great couple of years and made some nice $$$ to help through grad school. Many thought it was the end for modifying the mustang, but the aftermarket eventually evolved and it was business as usual.

However, things really started to change by the mid to late 2000's. The go to solution for everything become reprogramming your ECU (a tuner). The biggest name was SCT. They could pretty much alter everything about your engine and transmission with just a software update. The little electronic gizmos that I made become irrelevant, because a tuner could do all of those things and easily give you 10-20 more hp while they were at it. A little two man operations could not compete with big companies that had licensing agreements with Ford. Sure, I could reverse engineer the OBDII protocol Ford used, but we had no chance at scale and the liability would have put us out of business. Heck, even I went this way eventually. Why have 3-4 add-on modules when a tune could do the same.

The real nail in the coffin came when out of now where the EPA came threatening a law suit for violating the Clean Air Act. There stance was that modifying any type of emission control devices was against the law. It was okay for big companies to make "off road exhaust" and companies to "tune" your ECU, but some how some little two man operation was the problem. So, with no real money to fight it in court, the journey was over.

What is the point to my long story. Like all markets where there is money to be made, there will always be a way, because you know, capitalism. That was a great thing for me in the early 2000. I don't see it any different this time around. The difference seems to be that Ford is now looking for an even bigger piece of the pie. The risk they face, is the alienation of the Mustang enthusiast, which I think the have in many ways.

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Did you know that at one time Ford measured sales of mustangs in the hundreds of thousands (1966 = 607,568 and 2000 = 173,676)? Ford hasn't sold more than 100,000 mustangs per year since 2016 (2021 = 52,414). Did you also know that the Corvette had almost 50% as many sales as the Mustang (around 25,000 the last few years)? Let that sink in, the $80-120k corvette sells almost as well as the Mustang. Not a bright future IMO for the mustang. Looks like the mustang will just be another high priced toy for the rich and/or the highly in debt. The appeal of the mustang was always affordable, powerful, and customizable (was). Has not been that way for a long time.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
It is my pleasure to lock out all cars that require any kind of "membership" for anything. Better to drive an old dependable than the new, expensive, gold digger model .....
 

kira setsu

Posts: 447   +434
Who cares.

these new cars will be sold before a tire even touches a lot, buyers are chomping at the bit to get new cars for some reason, plus they want every bell and whistle that car makers will gladly toss in.

car people are just like gamers, smart dumbasses. Angrily flipping the bird and complaining with one hand while the other hand is swiping a card so fast the plastic melts to get whatever new bauble has been placed in front of them.

I'd say "just quit buying this s**t" but as we all see, no one does.
 

Tantor

Posts: 390   +660
If you did not know, "The global automotive aftermarket industry size was valued at USD $408.5 BILLION in 2021." Clearly not all of that is mustang performance, but it is still a very big market for the mustang. No way is Ford going to ignore that. Aftermarket modification is what built the Mustang brand. The question is, are they trying to take it all for themselves or are they just trying to take a bigger piece of the pie. I think the evolution of the software and additional security was inevitable. The questions is how will Ford play this with aftermarket tuners. Ford has tried to be in the tuning game in the past and failed. Maybe the other comments are right and they are trying it again wanting to emulate Mercedes and game developers. Lets hope not.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Here is my personal experience with Ford and aftermarket modifications of the years. Sorry that it is so long. I guess I had more to say than I thought.

20 years ago, I developed aftermarket electronics to modify mustangs. It was a interesting time around 2000 when mustangs went all in on modern electronics from the ignition (COP), sensors, traction control, etc. Many old school gear heads cried foul and even the large companies did not have solutions to simple things like adding a tachometer. I was a young electrical engineer at the time, and found it a fun challenge to be the first to build and sell electronic devices to enable workarounds for many of these "new fangled" electronics of the mustang (disable/add memory for the traction control, add a tachometer or shift light, fixed speedo for gear changes, support for aftermarket exhaust/cats, sequential turn signals). It was a great couple of years and made some nice $$$ to help through grad school. Many thought it was the end for modifying the mustang, but the aftermarket eventually evolved and it was business as usual.

However, things really started to change by the mid to late 2000's. The go to solution for everything become reprogramming your ECU (a tuner). The biggest name was SCT. They could pretty much alter everything about your engine and transmission with just a software update. The little electronic gizmos that I made become irrelevant, because a tuner could do all of those things and easily give you 10-20 more hp while they were at it. A little two man operations could not compete with big companies that had licensing agreements with Ford. Sure, I could reverse engineer the OBDII protocol Ford used, but we had no chance at scale and the liability would have put us out of business. Heck, even I went this way eventually. Why have 3-4 add-on modules when a tune could do the same.

The real nail in the coffin came when out of now where the EPA came threatening a law suit for violating the Clean Air Act. There stance was that modifying any type of emission control devices was against the law. It was okay for big companies to make "off road exhaust" and companies to "tune" your ECU, but some how some little two man operation was the problem. So, with no real money to fight it in court, the journey was over.

What is the point to my long story. Like all markets where there is money to be made, there will always be a way, because you know, capitalism. That was a great thing for me in the early 2000. I don't see it any different this time around. The difference seems to be that Ford is now looking for an even bigger piece of the pie. The risk they face, is the alienation of the Mustang enthusiast, which I think the have in many ways.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Did you know that at one time Ford measured sales of mustangs in the hundreds of thousands (1966 = 607,568 and 2000 = 173,676)? Ford hasn't sold more than 100,000 mustangs per year since 2016 (2021 = 52,414). Did you also know that the Corvette had almost 50% as many sales as the Mustang (around 25,000 the last few years)? Let that sink in, the $80-120k corvette sells almost as well as the Mustang. Not a bright future IMO for the mustang. Looks like the mustang will just be another high priced toy for the rich and/or the highly in debt. The appeal of the mustang was always affordable, powerful, and customizable (was). Has not been that way for a long time.

Thanks for the good information.

Like you said, a large part of Mustang 'value' was long term, affordable customization. Buying a Mustang meant buying into a community that provided knowledge, tradition, heritage, longevity and many other things.

Corporations ignore this at their peril. They engage in planned obsolescence, which intentionally destroys long term value.

This is a large part of AMD value. Buying into AM4 has given people a long term platform. Intel ignored that, and it cost them dearly.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,566   +1,473
Oh well get stuffed Fraud. No tune no buy, simple as that. Factory tune is always garbage and not being able to modify the car is massive hell no. I'll just stick to a car that still allows tuning and keep it forever if I have to. BTW only mor0ns would network their cars, I mean grade A mor0ns.
 

bviktor

Posts: 1,158   +1,690
Once again "security" against "attacks" is used as justification to take away ownership from end users. What a surprise, said nobody ever. Maybe if consumers would stop slobbering over being able to connect everything in their waking lives to the "cloud" we wouldnt be having this issue.
You have no idea what you're talking about.

Of course, you'd be the first to complain if a hacker managed to take over your high-tech car using 3rd party garbage you installed. Like "how could those stupid carmakers let this happen?!"
 

Fox God Records

Posts: 110   +97
You have no idea what you're talking about.

Of course, you'd be the first to complain if a hacker managed to take over your high-tech car using 3rd party garbage you installed. Like "how could those stupid carmakers let this happen?!"

Because adjusting the fuel curve after adding oversized injectors and a nitrous bottle needs to access a network. Or adjusting the throttle response involves networking. Or timing. Or changing the shift points. All of that needs to be accessible by the manufacturer through OTA networking.