The University of Windsor has created a new centre that looks to understand the cybersecurity issues surrounding self-driving cars.
The new SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence aims to assess the possible vulnerabilities in the hardware and software used in autonomous vehicles, and help develop policies and skills to protect the data these vehicles collect from their drivers.
Mitra Mirhassani, a professor in UWindsor’s electrical and computer engineering department and one of the centre’s founders, told CBC News in an interview that people “have to be worried” about the data being collected and how it could be used against them.
“Right now, if you are driving a car or anything like that don’t worry. But pretty soon, we have to all be sure that the devices and everything that we have are basically secure somehow,” said Mirhassani.
For the centre, hacking a car’s system and stealing its data are its top concern. Such information can even be used to discern a vehicle’s location, warned Ikjot Saini, centre co-founder and director from UWindsor’s school of computer science.
Saini explained that vehicles with advanced systems can record the driver’s trips, and that recorded data can be used by malicious individuals to figure out where the driver lives and works.
“What happens if somebody is passively listening to all this information and recording it?” said Saini. “So that’s a lot of information ... that puts you in a place where you are losing control on your personal information because it becomes mandatory for your safety.”
Saini also warned that presently, the data collected by current cars cannot be encrypted. Because of this, the centre is working on solutions to help keep the data anonymous.
CBC News reported that last week, the Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association (APMA) had just partnered with the new centre to guide and inform its research.