Automotive Data Translation

Modern connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are equipped with an increasing number of Electronic Control Units (ECUs), with many producing large amounts of data. This data is exchanged between ECUs via an in-vehicle network, with the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus being the de facto standard in current vehicles. Furthermore, CAVs do not only have physical interfaces, but also increased data connectivity to the Internet via their Telematic Control Units (TCUs), which enables them to be accessed remotely like mobile phones. In addition, since data transmitted on the CAN bus is not encrypted, it is possible to tap into and read/write data from/to the CAN bus. This naturally raises concerns about automotive cybersecurity. One commonality among most recent reported vehicular security attacks is that they ultimately require write access to the CAN bus. Nevertheless, malicious packets injected onto the CAN bus can only cause targeted and intentional changes in vehicle behavior if the attacker has knowledge of the CAN message format. However, since this format is proprietary to OEMs and can differ even among different models of a single make of vehicle, one must manually reverse engineer the CAN message format of each vehicle they target — a time-consuming and tedious process that does not scale. In this project, we develop a tool which can translate most CAN messages with minimal effort.


  • Kang G. Shin

Graduate Students

  • Mert D. Pesé
  • Eric Newberry
  • Dongyao Chen