Security Protocol to Prevent Car Hacking

A team of student researchers created a security protocol to protect from cyber attacks smart cars with GPS, Bluetooth and internet connections. “These cars have become the trend of the future,” said Shucheng Yu, an Associate Professor of computer science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). “There could be some very severe consequences if someone hacked into the car. A car can be fully controlled by the hacker if it is not protected,” Yu added in a university statement.

Yu and his student Zachary King, a junior majoring in computer science at the UALR, created a security protocol to protect smart cars from hacking in the project “Investigating and Securing Communications in the Controller Area Network (CAN)”.

King built an experimental environment that simulates the communication system in a smart car, which allows the security protocol to be tested through simulations. The security protocol acted in two ways to protect the CAN. It authenticated messages sent through the network by creating an authentication code, which allowed nodes on the network to differentiate between a valid message and an attacker's message, according to the researchers.

“There are many ways that hackers can control CAN,” King said. “Once they access it, hackers can pretty easily control your car however they want. We are proposing to add a layer of security, so if an unauthorized person accesses it, they still would not be able to control your vehicle.”

The participants were honored in July during commencement ceremony at the UALR Engineering and Information Technology Building. "The basic idea is to integrate cybersecurity and cyber forensics research with the latest technology in mobile cloud computing and social media to provide research opportunities to students," Xie said.

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