O2 - BeARCAT project

O2 completes Innovate UK cyber security project blueprint for self-driving cars

Leading UK telco O2 finalises projects to protect data integrity of connected cars as part of major UK project into autonomous vehicles on UK roads

Leading UK telco O2 has revealed that it has completed its contribution for the 12-week-long Baselining, Automation and Response for CAV Testbed (BeARCAT) cyber security project, funded by the UK’s government-funded innovation agency Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).

Explaining its participation in the project, O2 said the security of the UK’s transport system had never been more important, and would only increase with time as cyber attacks become more complex and sophisticated.

It cited a UK Cabinet Office report calculating that cyber crime costs the UK economy £27bn annually – £21bn of that to businesses, £3.1bn to citizens and £2.2bn to the government.

Given the anticipated growth rates of the automotive cyber security market and the UK’s connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) market, which other O2-cited research has shown will likely be in the region of £28bn by 2035, project BeARCAT is said to have generated valuable insights into the risks and challenges of the deployment of connected and automated mobility in public areas.

As part of the project, O2 provided access to its technical subject matter experts, working alongside partners that include technology company Cisco, Millbrook Proving Ground and Warwick Manufacturing Group, the engineering, manufacturing, and technology department at the University of Warwick.

The telco’s cyber security experts were responsible for determining the types of cyber attack and attackers that could pose a threat to CAV networks. Their investigation focused on developing models that could be used to classify, manage and mitigate cyber security risks for intelligent transport systems, which will be vital for ensuring the safety and security of road users in the future.

“If connected and autonomous vehicles are going to become a permanent fixture in our day-to-day lives, it will be critical that governments and the public feel reassured that this technology is secure from cyber attacks”
Brendan O’Reilly, O2

The project ran from 1 January to 31 March 2020. As a feasibility study, recommendations were put forward by the consortium to Innovate UK to form the basis of a future cyber security CAV test facility, which outlined the design, development and trialling of the outputs of the phase 1 study.

This followed the announcement in September 2019 that O2 would provide the connectivity for a “smart ambulance” at Millbrook Proving Ground as part of a trial to revolutionise patient diagnosis and early treatment, meaning that visits to hospitals could be minimised as well as providing an improvement in clinical outcomes.

Commenting on the trial, O2 chief technology officer (CTO) Brendan O’Reilly said: “If connected and autonomous vehicles are going to become a permanent fixture in our day-to-day lives, it will be critical that governments and the public feel reassured that this technology is secure from cyber attacks. We’re proud to have worked alongside other sector leaders to create a cyber security blueprint that will help the UK lead the way when it comes to innovation in the intelligent transportation systems of the future.”

Peter Stoker, chief engineer for connected and autonomous vehicles at Millbrook, added: “BeARCAT has been a great opportunity to bring together sector experts over the course of this study. O2’s in-depth telecommunications knowledge, Cisco’s insights and Warwick Manufacturing Group’s academic vigour all brought something new to Millbrook and our testing business. Looking to the future, it’s clear that the UK is well positioned to be one of the leaders in testing connected vehicles in a controlled environment.”

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