“There could be significant consequences for the safety of drivers and passengers if any of these autonomous or connected cars were to be hacked and on-board control systems compromised to disrupt moving vehicles.”
A team of cybersecurity experts are pooling their resources to solve a security flaw that threatens the security of the future's vehicles, working to safeguard connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) from being stolen by thieves equipped with even the most basic of technology. The project, which uses incredibly complex algorithms based on the randomness of light, is being carried out by researchers and quantum technology experts from Coventry University’s Institute for Future Transport and Cities (FTC) and the UK cybersecurity start-up, Crypta Labs.
The 12-month project has been put into action to counter what experts believe could pose a genuine risk to connected vehicles, and which could lead to criminals armed with a laptops and publicly-available software to hijack them without even setting off an alarm.
Financed by the UK government department set up to develop policy and support the futuristic cars, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (@ccavgovuk), FTC and Cryta Labs are already working on ways to end the threat before it has even been carried out, improving the safety and security of CAV drivers and passengers. Providing one of the major weaknesses of CAVs is an apparent reliance on ‘random’ numbers that in fact follow a hackable sequence, but @CryptaLabs has created a random generator that bases its value of the quantum properties of light.
Also announced this month, the UK automotive minister, Richard Harrington, announced that the government would be investing £22m in 22 CAV projects, including contributions from Jaguar Land Rover and Caterpillar, to help the UK achieve its aim of having fully self-driving vehicles on the nation’s roads by 2021.
Commenting on Coventry University’s FTC department’s work, its professor of systems security, Professor Siraj Ahmed Shaikh, said the threats against CAVs were developing rapidly and it was vital to head off cyber criminals before they learn new ways to target the vehicles. “There could be significant consequences for the safety of drivers and passengers if any of these autonomous or connected cars were to be hacked and on-board control systems compromised to disrupt moving vehicles,” said Shaikh. “There’s a real need for new approaches to address these problems.”
The latest work to secure CAVs comes in a time of heightened security for the owners of the latest, most advanced vehicles, with Transport Security World reporting on the scourge of thieves targeting keyless entry cars. Published in December last year, West Midlands Police released footage of two thieves armed with a wand device that strengthened the signal of the owner’s key fob that was located close to the front door. The top of the range car was stolen in a matter of seconds as the car owner slept. Ironically, the practise has led to owners of such cars having to use outdated steering wheel locks which have become increasingly obsolete as vehicles have become more secure.
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