Privacy Threats from Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors

Starting with Model Year 2008, all vehicles are mandated by the Federal Government to have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. These systems most commonly are implemented using an RFID chip in each tire valve stem, with a unique serial number on each. When cars are manufactured the ID’s of the tires are associated with VIN’s, and replacement tires could be re-associated during State inspections. Car onboard diagnostics could be programmed to not allow the car to operate in a situation with unaddressable tires.

Such systems are vulnerable to being read by just about anybody. A buried wire under the pavement, same as inductive traffic sensors used at red lights, could be utilized to read vehicle information anywhere on a road. A good use of this would be private parking lots, for automated billing purposes. It could also be used for State surveillance or terrorism.

Bruce Schneier has a writeup and a few years ago there was some creative brainstorming about what could be done. These are just a start- let your imagination run wild and there are all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad. The technology is neutral, but some uses may be sinister.