Dr. Winstead contributed to an article published in the 2013 Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC). The article, titled "An Efficiency-motivated Attack Against Autonomous Vehicular Transportation," is now available as an Open Access publication. This research was the outcome of a collaboration with security expert Ryan Gerdes and transportation expert Kevin Heaslip.
The LE/FT lab has a long collaborative history with the Utah Transportation Center on topics related to communications infrastructure in transportation systems and vehicular communication. In this particular research, we examined new security vulnerabilities that emerge from cooperative automation in platoons of self-driving vehicles. We found that these systems can be exploited in subtle ways to degrade the efficiency of targeted vehicles, unless countermeasures are designed into the vehicle's control systems. This "efficiency attack" could be used, for example, by a shipping company seeking to gain an advantage against a rival operator. A more sinister attack could use the same principle to degrade the entire system, hence defeating the advantages of vehicle automation.