Following yesterday’s report on the ability of computer hackers to take control of various vehicle functions, including braking and steering, simply by using a laptop computer, comes news that a court in the U.K. has blocked a group of scientists from revealing methods to start Volkswagen Group vehicles, also by using a computer.

The scientists, all cryptography experts, have written a paper that allegedly reveals methods to detect the various computer codes used by Volkswagen Group vehicles, including codes to start the engines. The vehicles, including premium models from the likes of Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche, use an encryption tool called the Megamos Crypto to verify the identity of their respective ignition keys.

According to The Guardian, the court is fearful that sophisticated criminal gangs could potentially use the paper to discover methods of breaking in and stealing the cars. The newspaper reports that the court has filed an injunction against the scientists’ paper being published as part of a case originally filed by the Volkswagen Group.

The scientists had hoped to publish their paper at the Usenix Security Symposium being held in Washington D.C. next month. Before heading to court, the Volkswagen Group is alleged to have asked the scientists to publish a version of the paper without the actual codes but was turned down.

The scientists argue the paper will help improve the security of cars for everyone and that the public has a right to know what weaknesses were inherent in modern car security systems.


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