US Institute Develops System for Military Vehicle Cybersecurity

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Texas has developed a new intrusion detection system (IDS) to protect military ground vehicles from cybersecurity attacks.

Developed in collaboration with the US Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, the new IDS technology utilizes algorithms and digital fingerprints to detect any anomalies in communication systems embedded in ground combat vehicles.

System algorithms will transmit information through the Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol to identify an unknown or invalid node connected to the vehicle network.

“A cyberattack could potentially send erroneous information across the CAN protocol to alter or impede a vehicle’s operations,” SwRI engineer Jonathan Wolford said in a press release. “An attack on several connected vehicles could have disastrous effects.”

Testing the System

In an attempt to better understand the new system’s characteristics, SwRI conducted a test to maximize the system’s baseline data. The test showed that the intrusion system accurately identified messages sent from unauthorized nodes and spurious messages sent from valid nodes.

The developers also revealed that they injected false data into the system; however, algorithms quickly flagged the suspicious information, proving that the IDS technology can identify threats and protect against them.

“These attacks are theoretically easier for bad actors who have physical access to a vehicle, but vehicles are also vulnerable from wireless attacks,” another SwRI engineer Peter Moldenhauer explained, adding that the system is designed to build cyber resiliency for more connected and automated vehicle networks.

Although IDS technology was initially designed for military vehicles, the institute said it could also be integrated into passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

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