Could quantum technology help fight connected and autonomous vehicle hacking?

Researchers at Coventry University and quantum technology experts at cyber-security firm Crypta Labs are to explore how the technology could help protect connected and autonomous vehicles from cyber-attacks.

The cyber security group from Coventry University’s Institute for Future Transport and Cities (FTC) will work with Crypta Labs to investigate how security systems based on the randomness of light could help to improve cyber-security for driverless and connected vehicles.

At the moment, there are fears such vehicles could be hijacked by criminals using publicly available software and a laptop.

“The threats surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles are developing rapidly, as cyber criminals learn new ways to target these cars and crack their encryption systems,” said Professor Siraj Ahmed Shaikh, a professor of systems security at FTC.

“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.”

Current encryption systems rely on numbers that are not truly random, potentially putting vehicles at risk from hackers, said the partners. Crypta Labs has developed a Quantum Random Number Generator that can acquire a truly random number using the random behaviour of light particles called photons.

The project will assess the technical and commercial feasibility of applying Crypta Labs’ system to connected and autonomous vehicles.

“We believe Quantum Random Number Generation (QRNG) technology can have profound applications for transport and vehicle security,” said Crypta Labs CEO Joe Luong. “The project will serve to be a critical link in assessing how QRNG-based security could strengthen connected and autonomous vehicles.”