Sensor Cybersecurity – A new kind of cyber

Sensor Vulnerability

With sensors being used in both manned and unmanned platforms, the need for reliable sensor protection is increasing across all sectors and industries. From drones to driverless cars and from shipping to aviation, many assets are left exposed and vulnerable to malicious sensor based threats. New solutions and technologies to protect sensors must be integrated into existing and future platforms of mobile phones, cars, ships, airplanes, drones, robots, and even infrastructure.

LiDAR Systems Vulnerable to Attacks

With the surge of LiDAR systems usage, the threat of LiDAR jamming and spoofing rises dramatically, issues such as autonomous car LiDAR usage, off-shore vessel LiDAR cyber defense, LiDAR-based drone cybersecurity, and driverless truck LiDAR navigation have become front and center. The primary risk in attacking LiDAR is the creation of fake objects, false echoes and generate noise. LiDAR with fake or false input is putting the entire sensor fusion system at great danger. LiDAR is becoming the backbone for robust mapping capabilities even more than Radar due to its capability of detecting beyond physical obstacles making it a high priority sensor in the process of sensor fusion. The result of false echoes can cause LiDAR to misread their distance or detect falsified objects and data as true. This kind of LiDAR spoofing attack would mean the autonomous vehicle would potentially crash into another car, pedestrians, infrastructure or send the vehicle completely off-road.

The seemingly vulnerable nature of LiDAR proves that there is a dire need for cybersecurity methods that every manufacturer should implement to strengthen and protect the sensor and ensure continuity in sensor data reliability. LiDAR systems used in automated driving technology are vulnerable to spoofing attacks that have been able to cause LiDAR to identify an object in the road falsely, thus affecting decision making, emergency response, and puts lives in danger.

Successfully detecting light and laser intensity attacks based on the timing and frequency of received light pulses and correlation to the LiDAR gating time is key. Regulus Cyber’s Pyramid LiDAR provides an extended range of detection, a 360 degrees FOV, and state of the art spoofing mitigation technique. Pyramid LiDAR safeguards against LiDAR hacking so that the sensor can continue to obtain, and process accurate data from the environment.

The next stage in camera sensor security


Visual image sensors are the eyes of any system, and they can be easily hacked. Attackers can use powerful LED lights or lasers to impair the vision of the camera by adjusting brightness, to create dead pixels and limit the camera’s range and abilities. Cameras can be altered and tampered with to cause an array of disasters, all with an inexpensive laser pointer.

To allow continuous processes, avoid navigational disaster, and to keep lives safe, camera sensor security must be made a priority. Not unlike the human eye, cameras are vulnerable and at times dependent on outside conditions. From weather conditions to the angle of light to reflections, cameras can be manipulated into falsely identifying objects.

For little cost and in a simple and straightforward manner, an attacker can manipulate a camera. Bursts of light can blind the camera and cause the image sensors to miss important visual objects, data which is then missing from the sensor fusion process. The interference could cause the camera to miss a person, a sign, a car, and even the road itself.

Camera visual sensor systems are susceptible to fatal errors in judgment and perception, which can result in a deadly disaster. Risk must be lowered against camera spoofing attacks by utilizing Pyramid GNSS in order to ensure automobile security systems receive, process, and act on reliable and safe data.

Looking ahead: sensor security as investment across industries

Sensor security is crucial to the aviation, shipping, logistics, and mobility industries. The development of autonomous technology highlights the importance of sensor cybersecurity even further. Beyond sensors is the risk to GNSS technology. The GPS signals of any system can be quickly overtaken and controlled remotely. With such massive vulnerabilities, security is of the utmost importance to any business or corporation looking to adopt and utilize sensor technology.

By 2020, there will be 8 Billion GNSS receivers worldwide, but without proper end-to-end satellite signal security, autonomous systems pose a significant issue to public safety.
Car sensors spoofing attacks can lead to accidents with pedestrians, other cars, and infrastructure.
Ship sensors spoofing attacks can send a ship off course heading towards a collision with other ships or land.
Airplane sensors spoofing can cause runway misses during landing or disable take-off capability.
UAV sensors spoofing attacks can result in loss of control and crashing on people.
Effective system sensor cybersecurity means autonomous processes can be carried out successfully without risk or delay.
Autonomous systems are breaking into a variety of industries as a critical and necessary business investment. Automated systems are used for search and rescue, expedited shipping, infrastructure maintenance, aerial surveillance, and driverless transportation. Unfortunately, sensor security has not kept pace with the rapid adoption of these systems for civilian commercial applications. It is imperative that sensitive data received and processed by any sensor will be true and real time.

Unmanned systems are being utilized at a rapid rate and provide incredible opportunities for enterprises looking to adopt them. Without proper sensor security, the autonomous technology cannot exercise their benefit to the fullest extent, and instead of providing value, they pose a severe and vital threat to security, privacy, and safety.

The importance to protect sensors such as GNSS, LiDAR, Camera, Radar and more means that corporates and regulators would have to pay careful attention to cyber safety in the following applications:
Commercial aviation sensor protection
Maritime Sensor Protection
Autonomous vehicle sensor security
Automated drone sensor defense

Across industries, enterprises are due to deal with major brand image threat with inefficient sensor security measures which make businesses prone to major losses and security breaches.

Regulus Cyber is an industry leader in end-to-end sensor cybersecurity solutions that provide security and mission reliability to the navigation and sensor suite of autonomous cars, trucks, robots, and drones, ensuring safety and operational resilience.