Investigating Attacks on Vehicular Platooning and Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: Autonomous vehicles are a rising technology that aims to change the way people think about mobility in the future. A crucial step towards that goal is the assurance that malicious actors cannot instigate accidents that could lead to damages or loss of life. Currently, vehicle platoons, that is vehicles cooperating together to increase fuel saving and driver comfort, are used in limited environments and are the focus of research aimed to make them suitable for real-world wide usage. In that regard, guaranteeing that the vehicle is able to operate alongside other entities, autonomous or not, in the traditional sense is not adequate. The computer systems involved can be the target or the source of a malicious act without the knowledge of the operator in either case. In the context of platooning, these acts can have devastating effects and can originate either from other vehicles on the road or from within, from compromised vehicles that are part of the formation. In this thesis, the focus is centered around the latter. We investigate jamming and data falsification attacks that aim to either destabilize the platoon, thus, reducing its benefits or provoke an accident. These attacks are more difficult to discern and will range from simple falsification attacks to more complex ones that aim to bypass defensive mechanisms. In that sense, we direct our experiments against the platoon maneuvers that are a core functionality of platooning and are required for its nominal operation. The results of this analysis show that several attacks can lead to accidents with position falsification being the most productive. It is also demonstrated that a malicious leader can pose a serious threat to the viability of the platoon because of his unique capability of interacting with all the platoon members. Attacks during the platoon maneuvers are demonstrated to pose a threat, not only to the stability of the formation but also the nature of the platooning application itself. This is achieved by effectively isolating the platoon from potential joiners. 

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