IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Researchers prove self-driving cars can be hacked

Hackers can manipulate self-driving cars into seeing people, cars and walls

Hackers can fool self-driving cars into thinking obstructions such as cars, other people and walls are in front of them, forcing the vehicles to take action to evade the non-existent objects.

This would involve the car slowing down or stopping to avoid a collision and means, of course, that automated cars may be fundamentally insecure, vulnerable to cyber criminals armed with nothing more complex than a $60 low-power laser and pulse generator, according to IEEE Spectrum.

The pointer can compromise the reliability of the laser ranging system (lidar) used by self-driving cars to map the world around them. The vulnerability was discovered by researchers at software security company Security Innovation, and will be presented at the Black Hat Europe security conference later this year.

Jonathan Petit, principle scientist at Security Innovation, explained: "I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want. And I can do the same with a pedestrian or a wall.

"It's kind of a laser pointer, really," he added of the technology needed to hack the cars. "And you don't need the pulse generator when you do the attack. You can easily do it with a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino. It's really off the shelf."

Earlier this year, it was reported that BT Assure Ethical Hacking for Vehicles had been deployed to identify potential security issues present in driverless car technology before they could be exploited.

Back in June, two self-driving cars owned by Google and Delphi narrowly avoided a crash as companies tested the autonomous vehicles in Palo Alto. It was confirmed that over 1.7m miles driven by Google's cars, there had been only 11 accidents recorded.

"There are ways to solve it," continued Petit. "A strong system that does misbehaviour detection could cross-check with other data and filter out those that aren't plausible. But I don't think carmakers have done it yet. This might be a good wake-up call for them."

Featured Resources

The state of Salesforce: Future of business

Three articles that look forward into the changing state of Salesforce and the future of business

Free Download

The mighty struggle to migrate SAP to the cloud may be over

A simplified and unified approach to delivering Enterprise Transformation in the cloud

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM FlashSystem

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by FlashSystem

Free Download

Recommended

UC Irvine selects Velodyne Lidar’s traffic-monitoring solution
smart city

UC Irvine selects Velodyne Lidar’s traffic-monitoring solution

28 Sep 2021
Aurora announces Safety Case Framework for autonomous vehicles
automation

Aurora announces Safety Case Framework for autonomous vehicles

20 Aug 2021
Have driverless cars stalled?
automation

Have driverless cars stalled?

20 Aug 2021

Most Popular

Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS
cyber attacks

Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS

8 Aug 2022
Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

29 Jul 2022