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European initiative for cyber-secure transports

As more and more vehicles become connected and dependent on interaction with their surroundings, they also become potential targets for cyberattacks, where the consequences could be catastrophic. To manage and prevent the risk of cyberattacks associated connected vehicles, RISE and several European partners are collaborating to develop a framework for cybersecurity aimed at protecting such vehicles.

An ever-increasing number of vehicles across the world are becoming connected and through the year 2023, the production of connected vehicles is expected to increase by more than 16 percent each year, with at least 76 million connected vehicles by that time. Vehicles can connect to each other, infrastructures and the cloud, thereby creating their own network referred to as the Internet of Vehicles (IoV). The risk, however, is that they become targets for cyberattacks, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

“A successful attack against a connected vehicle could be dangerous to the driver, passengers and surroundings,” says Mudassar Aslam, Senior Researcher at RISE and active in the nIoVe project. “An extra dimension is added with autonomous vehicles since there is a risk of being able to trick them into believing that they are at an entirely different place than where they actually are,” he says.

Real-time tests on test tracks

Cybersecurity and safety of connected vehicles is already being tested at this time. In Sweden alone, for example, vehicle manufactures can already test resilience to external influences at the AstaZero and Awitar facilities. And, with the nIove project, it is possible to test all systems included in Internet of Vehicles for their resilience to complex attacks. It is also possible to run the tests in real time, on test tracks.

"One of our aims is certainly to lower the risk of cyberattacks for connected and autonomous cars (CAVs),” says Mudassar Aslam. “But our efforts are also focussed on establishing the next generation robust network for connected vehicles and for being able to share information throughout the entire network. Doing so will help shorten the response time to attacks and minimize the impact,” he says.

Similar projects, solely in Sweden

RISE is the technical lead for the nIoVe project, which is a collaborative effort of 13 partners from six European countries. But Mudassar Aslam thinks that, in the future, it will be possible to carry out similar projects solely in Sweden.

“Right now, we’re investigating how to connect our new cyber range in Kista with existing testing and demo facilities like Awitar and AstaZero, thereby firmly establishing it in the testbed chain for autonomous vehicles. In a couple of years, I think it will be possible to, from the cyber range, simulate attacks on a vehicle that is driving on the test track at AstaZero,” he says.