See our PROBoter in action

SecForCARs Demo Video of our PROBoter released

The PROBoter is a modular, self-calibrating probing machine to support PCB analysis tasks in penetration tests of embedded systems. The video of the PROBoter demonstrates its four main contributions: 1) The automatic visual detection of components and contact points on a PCB, 2) the automatic probing of contact points for net reversing and signal detection, 3) the mapping of signal lines to given bus protocols, and 4) the support in identification of potential attack vectors.

Youtube video TYEjZA-xbGo

The list below gives an overview of the topics covered in the PROBoter blog post series. Links will be updated as soon as the corresponding parts are being released.

Analyzing the security of hardware components is an essential part of penetration tests in the context of embedded systems. Especially in the domain of automotive security and upcoming autonomous vehicles, vulnerabilities of electronic control units (ECUs) may have severe implications and therefore should be identified early in the development process.

Typically, the security analysis requires manual probing of pins or other contact pads on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) followed by the attempt to identify signals and respective bus protocols. To increase the efficiency of this hardware analysis and further reduce error-proneness of manual probing steps, we introduce the PROBoter (PROBing roboter) as a novel open-source and self-calibrating architecture for automated PCB analysis as part of a penetration test.

The PROBoter consists of four independently moving probes assisted by a camera for the detection of pins and contact pads, and an oscilloscope for signal measurement. Several algorithms allow the automatic probing of voltages at detected pins and contact pads, and subsequently try to identify existing bus protocols.

We evaluated the feasibility of our approach using different PCBs and a self-designed test board for signal generation. Our evaluation shows that the PROBoter can detect and probe respective parts of a PCB with high accuracy and can successfully identify selected bus protocols. Our novel approach provides a significant contribution to the field of PCB analysis by automating manual work and thus increasing the efficiency of penetration tests of embedded systems such as automotive ECUs.

This video is part of the SecForCARs project’s demo video series. Videos about other parts of the project can be found on the SecForCARs YouTube channel

For further details, please see:

Dr. Bastian Könings