Should AI handle cyber security threats in self-driving cars?

David Masson, Country Manager Canada for Darktrace

The arrival of autonomous vehicles in Canada will open the door to cyber security threats that artificial intelligence, more than humans, may be best prepared to handle, according to David Masson, Country Manager Canada for Darktrace, a machine learning company for cyber security.

Masson, who is also a former agent for Canadian and British intelligence agencies, says the cyber security threats that we face now will be the same for self-driving cars and technology, but on a much bigger scale. The quantity, quality and speed of the technology and perhaps even the threats may be too much and too complex for humans to handle.

Darktrace currently uses AI, or machine learning, to do threat detection: to view changes on a network and then assess if there is something to be concerned about. They also use AI to make judgement calls on behalf of human beings. “We’re not replacing human beings, they are still making the decisions here, but AI is doing the heavy lifting for them,” said Masson in an interview with Canadian auto dealer.

When asked what in particular Canadians should be aware of when it comes to cyber security and autonomous vehicles, Masson says visibility into the network will be importance. “You will want to ensure that the data that is going to a vehicle hasn’t been corrupted or changed,” and that “on the OT (Operational Technology) side, you want to make sure that no one gets in to take over the vehicle and affect whether it speeds up, slows down” and so on. “The last thing you want to experience is your brakes developing a mind of their own.”

Canada is already preparing for the mass arrival of self-driving cars to ensure the country is capable of handling the upcoming period of technological change.

In January, the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications released a report with 16 recommendations — some of which must tackle privacy concerns over how data is collected by the technology we will be using, and the handling of cyber security issues that could make the vehicles vulnerable to hackers.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Transport Canada, in cooperation with the Communications Security Establishment and Public Safety Canada, develop cybersecurity guidance for the transportation sector based on best practices and recognized cybersecurity principles. The guidance should include advice on original equipment, replacement equipment and software updates.
  • Transport Canada work with Public Safety Canada, the Communications Security Establishment and industry stakeholders to address cybersecurity issues and to establish a real-time crisis connect network, and that Transport Canada report regularly on their progress.

Masson says there is also a need for federal government industry cooperation. “You will need to set standards for something that is applicable Canada-wide, and even North-American continent-wide, because autonomous vehicles will be crossing borders.”

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