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BusinessWeek: “Making Cars More Hacker-Proof”

BusinessWeekBusinessWeek logo reports on how research by a team led by UW Computer Science & Engineering professor Yoshi Kohno and UC San Diego professor (and UW CSE alum) Stefan Savage has led engineers at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to launch a project to harden automotive command and control systems. The research has shown that it’s possible to compromise critical automotive systems such as braking and engine functions without physical access to the vehicle.

Two paths towards such control are the Bluetooth wireless network used for hands-free use of a mobile phone, and via the telematics systems such as OnStar and (F) SYNC. Attacks via Bluetooth require close proximity to the vehicle, but attacks via telematics systems, which are based on the public switched telephone system and linked cellular mobile phone system, can be executed from anywhere in the world. The Kohno/Savage team has demonstrated that vulnerability by unlocking and starting a standard vehicle from half a continent away.

The SAE project will develop new standards to prevent such attacks, but security is a process, not a product, and the process will be ongoing.

The full text of the article in BusinessWeek is here. We’ve previously reported on the automotive security research here and here.

October 14, 2011

Stellar CSE Showing at the 2009 ACM ICPC Pacific Northwest Region

Associate for Computing Machinery

Three teams from UW CSE competed in the 2009 Pacific Northwest Region Intercollegiate Programming Contest held at the University of Oregon in Eugene on Saturday, November 7, competing in a region that stretches from southern California up to Canada and over to Hawaii. The contest was held at five different sites simultaneously, with twenty-two teams from Washington and Oregon competing at the UO site.

The CSE teams placed first, second, and third among the teams at the site, and had our best showing ever in the region. CSE teams placed fifth and sixth in the region out of 77 teams total. Those two teams placed above all the teams from Berkeley and Simon Fraser who are normally very tough competitors, beaten only by teams from UBC, Stanford, and the University of Victoria.

CSE teams were:

  • Team Captcha (first at site, fifth in region): Jeff Booth, Michael Sloan, Will Johnson
  • Firefighter Endorsed (second at site, sixth in region): Joshua Snyder, Kevin Wallace, Alyssa Harding
  • Three Bytes Deficient (third at site, 23rd in region): Steven Howard, Conrad Meyer, Tyler Smith

Complete results are at

November 8, 2009

UW CSE Professional Master’s Program expands

CSElogoText_144For the first time since its inception in 1996, the UW CSE Professional Master’s Program (PMP) is expanding:  from 130 students to 160, and from three offered courses each quarter to four.  The PMP – a part-time evening program targeted towards talented software industry professionals with strong undergraduate preparation in computer science or computer engineering and three or more years of professional experience – has awarded nearly 500 degrees since its inception.

Longtime PMP Advisor Dave Rispoli is excited about the change.  “Demand had grown to the point where we were unable to accommodate a significant number of highly qualified applicants.  The expansion will restore balance.  There has never been a better time to apply!”

To earn their degree, PMP students complete one four-credit course plus a one-credit colloquium course for eight quarters.  PMP courses are taught by the same top-ranked faculty who teach UW CSE’s full-time graduate and undergraduate courses.  “We have an 85% graduation rate,” says Rispoli, “which means that even students who are putting in extraordinary work hours can earn their degree in a reasonable time and maintain some semblance of a home life.  It’s not easy, but the program’s flexibility means that, at least for the vast majority of those who are accepted, it’s doable.”

The next PMP application deadline is November 1, for a Winter Quarter start.  Additional application deadlines are February 1 for Spring Quarter, and July 1 for Autumn Quarter.

Additional information on CSE’s Professional Master’s Program can be found by contacting Dave at or by viewing the PMP Web page at

September 26, 2009