RBE Colloquium Series
Spoofing a positioning feedback system and other cruel tricks to play on students
Abstract: The physical nature of cyber-physical systems creates new challenges for security and resiliency of autonomous systems. Traditional cybersecurity has focused on authentication, encryption, and other computer techniques, but the increased connectivity of systems and the inclusion of a wide variety of sensors create new avenues for attack and failure. In this talk, I will present the results of a class project where autonomous vehicles were subjected to GPS spoofing. For their term project, students in the class designed and built small, autonomous vehicles that relied on wheel encoders and data provided from a camera – an “indoor GPS” – for feedback. Students developed sensor fusion and control algorithms to localize the vehicles and navigate from point to point in a small arena. Unbeknownst to the students, however, the camera feedback system was “hacked” to systematically send erroneous coordinates during their final demonstrations for the purpose of observing the students’ reactions and assessing their awareness of such attacks. Despite the fact that the students had given presentations on cyber-physical security, including GPS spoofing, earlier in the term, only one student even considered such an attack as a potential cause of the obvious system anomalies, indicating that more attention needs to be placed on cyber-physical security so that the next generation of engineers are better able to detect and defend against potential threats.
Bio: Greg Lewin is a new assistant teaching professor in the robotics engineering program. Before joining WPI, he spent seven years as a lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Virginia, where he directed the Technology Leaders Program, an interdisciplinary program in automated systems and engineering design. While there, he won several teaching awards, and led capstone design teams in electromechanical systems, mechatronics, robotics, and engineering. Lewin was a postdoc at the University of Southern Denmark, where he collaborated with several European universities on the design of biomimetic sensor systems and robotic demonstrators. He received his masters and PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia.