Research confirms: tachograph manipulation extremely organized and sophisticated

  • Dec. 8, 2020
  • Maurice Moens

Tachograph fraud is a major social problem. For his graduation project at Brace Automotive, Joost Geerts is researching the susceptibility to fraud of nearly 30 vehicle systems. Joost's risk analysis shows that the tachograph of all these systems poses the greatest risk in terms of manipulation. Bert van Voorthuizen is an inspector at the ILT. Joost and Bert join forces in the investigation of tachograph fraud. Where are the biggest challenges according to this research? And what can the inspectorate do to operate effectively in this grim market?

Motives
In 2017, Bert spoke to Brace Automotive about the manipulation of vehicles. Bert then keeps in touch with Brace Automotive. A few years later, this contact resulted in a collaboration between both parties.

©ILT
Joost Geerts
Joost: “The social impact of tachograph fraud is significant. There is also a great temptation to give in to this form of fraud. In our research we distinguish 2 groups: the makers and the users of manipulated systems. The "makers" are fraudsters who create complex manipulations because the demand is present in the market. Users easily pay several thousand euros for a manipulated system. This trade can therefore quickly earn a maker a lot of money. By "users" we mean transport operators and drivers. Manipulated systems provide them with a financial advantage because they can continue driving longer. They purchase these manipulated systems and thereby violate the driving and rest time law. A possible consequence of this is that they endanger road safety."


Manipulated tachograph
Bert: “At ILT we wanted to use this research to discover how inspectors can recognize manipulation more quickly. And we wanted to have practical advice on this. That is why I gave Joost a manipulated tachograph for his research. I found that tachograph together with a colleague during a road check. My request to Joost was not to look specifically at the manipulated tachograph, but also the effect of manipulation on the safety of vehicles. The analyzes from Joost's research show that the tachograph does indeed affect the operation of other important safety systems, such as the vehicle's ABS braking system."


“You are sometimes amazed at how vigorously fraudsters work”


Amazement about in-depth approach
Joost: “Tachograph fraud often hides entire "organizations" that operate very thoroughly. There are numerous means of reading and analyzing a vehicle's software. Malicious parties purchase tools that they use to analyze networks. You are sometimes amazed at how vigorously fraudsters work to manipulate tachographs."


Bert: “Manipulations are becoming more and more sophisticated. Fraudsters adjust the software in the tachographs. Inspectors have to adapt their surveillance methods to this during roadside checks. It is therefore necessary to adjust international supervision."

©ILT
Bert van Voorthuizen


Collaboration with the business community is required
Joost: “The complexity of manipulation is much greater than I personally expected. Therefore, the need for additional technical research is very great. For example, you can carry out additional technical research with tachographs that the ILT uses for research. To this end, the ILT can seek cooperation with specialized companies, such as Brace Automotive. This offers new insights to determine in detail how manipulation takes place. You can then use this information to develop tools for inspectors in the fight against system manipulations. Some manipulations are technically very complex. You cannot require inspectors to have all the technical knowledge."


Bert: “After these results of the first investigation, we had a conversation with Brace Automotive about a specific follow-up study in the field of network communication in the vehicle. Brace Automotive is now working on an action plan to give us tools to analyze data traffic in the vehicle."


Appealing perspective
Joost: “You need to give inspectors insight into technical matters that help them to recognize fraud more quickly. Now inspectors are often already aware of drivers who act unlawfully. The inspector's gut feeling is often correct. I believe that experienced inspectors develop a nose for this over time. But there must be a concrete burden of proof. If inspectors can measure vehicle systems, they can substantiate suspicions of fraud from their technical knowledge. That gives inspectors more backing."


Bert: “We have equipment to read and analyze vehicle systems. Further research into manipulated systems further helps us as inspectors to detect tachograph fraud more quickly."


Source: ILENT.NL Verhaal | 02-12-2020 | Inspecteur Wegvervoer

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