Dismantling the AUT64 Automotive Cipher


  • Christopher Hicks School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Flavio D. Garcia School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham United Kingdom
  • David Oswald School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham United Kingdom




Automotive security, Hardware and software reverse engineering


AUT64 is a 64-bit automotive block cipher with a 120-bit secret key used in a number of security sensitive applications such as vehicle immobilization and remote keyless entry systems. In this paper, we present for the first time full details of AUT64 including a complete specification and analysis of the block cipher, the associated authentication protocol, and its implementation in a widely-used vehicle immobiliser system that we have reverse engineered. Secondly, we reveal a number of cryptographic weaknesses in the block cipher design. Finally, we study the concrete use of AUT64 in a real immobiliser system, and pinpoint severe weaknesses in the key diversification scheme employed by the vehicle manufacturer. We present two key-recovery attacks based on the cryptographic weaknesses that, combined with the implementation flaws, break both the 8 and 24 round configurations of AUT64. Our attack on eight rounds requires only 512 plaintext-ciphertext pairs and, in the worst case, just 237.3 offline encryptions. In most cases, the attack can be executed within milliseconds on a standard laptop. Our attack on 24 rounds requires 2 plaintext-ciphertext pairs and 248.3 encryptions to recover the 120-bit secret key in the worst case. We have strong indications that a large part of the key is kept constant across vehicles, which would enable an attack using a single communication with the transponder and negligible offline computation.



How to Cite

Hicks, C., Garcia, F. D., & Oswald, D. (2018). Dismantling the AUT64 Automotive Cipher. IACR Transactions on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems, 2018(2), 46–69. https://doi.org/10.13154/tches.v2018.i2.46-69