The Car Hackers Handbook ~ An Introduction to Vehicle Hacking

The Car Hacker’s Handbook is a book on car hacking licensed under Creative Commons. Since the original site seems to be overloaded and the file size of the original pdf is 251 MB (!!) I’ve made it available on our mirror for download (total size ~6,7MB).

I had big expectations when BoingBoing announced that

“It is a comprehensive guide to hacking modern automobiles.”

Here some thoughts on the material:

The book gives an excellently detailed guide on how to build a CAN bus sniffer and illustrates replaying attacks for simple things, like unlocking the doors, attaching to CAN, interpret and send some simple packets.

While the CAN stuff is fantastic and covered extensively, to make it an actual “comprehensive handbook”, it could be improved with some sections dedicated to Ethernet, keyfobs, immobilizers, keypads, passive key entry systems. Also to make this more usable for experts, I’d love to see some actual examples of  ECU firmware deconstruction in the “reversing the [ECU] firmware” section.

In conclusion, this book gives newcomers a great overview on how to connect to the CAN bus, send packets, and have a rough overview of the other networking systems in a car. But advanced users probably won’t learn anything new as it doesn’t mention anything about APIs being available or specifically talk about how to write exploits[1][2], which is the juicy stuff.

So maybe the title should be: “The Car Hackers Handbook ~ An Introduction to CAN Hacking” ?

[1] Adventures in Automotive Networks and Control Units (
[2] Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces (
Joachim Bauernberger

Passionate about Open Source, GNU/Linux and Security since 1996. I write about future technology and how to make R&D faster. Expatriate, Entrepreneur, Adventurer and Foodie, currently living near Nice, France.