Imagine driving down the highway when suddenly your brakes slam, your engine turns off and your doors lock. A hacker has remotely taken control of your car.
Preventing this hypothetical scenario is a focus of automakers everywhere. As cars become loaded with computerized parts, they also become vulnerable to cyberattacks and privacy leaks, at least to a degree.
Professional “good guy” hackers demonstrated that they can attack computerized technology in cars as recently as this spring, when French security business Synacktiv proved that it could hack the infotainment system of a leading electric vehicle at the annual Pwn2Own computer hacking competition.
This cybersecurity sector is becoming more of a focal point for research, particularly as advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) make their way into the auto industry.
“If you have a classic car with almost zero computers, then there is almost no chance someone can remotely take control of your car. But now, with advancement and widespread integration of computing devices in modern cars, we are thinking about things differently,” said M. Hadi Amini, an assistant professor at the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing.
Amini is an expert in developing machine learning, AI and optimization algorithms and tailoring them towards real world applications, including healthcare, homeland security and infrastructure resilience. He researches how to integrate AI into complex systems while considering cyber, physical and societal perspectives at the Sustainability, Optimization, and Learning for InterDependent networks laboratory (solid lab).
Amini is leading the university’s investigation of AI for the National Center for Transportation Cybersecurity and Resiliency, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The potential of AI in vehicles is seemingly great — already, some drivers are using the technology to operate their vehicles semi-autonomously — but the technology also brings new challenges.
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