CAR HACKING WEEK

As part of Work Experience Week, 12 students from the UTC applied their knowledge of coding and cyber-security to hack a Nissan Micra, under the tuition of Ian Tabor, a senior consultant for cyber-security experts MASS.

MASS (www.mass.co.uk) approached the UTC, challenging our students to see what they could learn about vulnerabilities of a vehicle’s systems, and what better way to do that with an actual vehicle, a load of Arduino boards, some demo hardware and a dozen young, enquiring minds who are studying computer science.

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The students quickly learned that they could identify signals sent over the car’s network, then replicate those signals to control the car. For example, they could control the speedometer reading, turn on the lights, sound the horn and get the wipers going. With some hardware that they created, they even managed to work out how to unlock the vehicle via their laptops.

Naturally, this gave rise to discussion about the importance the cyber-security of vehicles, particularly as cars become more autonomous.

In presentations at the end of the week, the students gave an account of their learning during the week, and how they had “enabled Disco-mode” on the car through code they had written to flash all the lamps on the instrument panel and exterior, and took questions from a team of senior representatives at MASS.

Jack Stark, CIO at MASS said, “I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the end of week presentations, listening to the students present with such enthusiasm and interest makes the effort everyone puts into these engagements worthwhile. Speaking to some of the students afterwards, I was encouraged by their eagerness to understand more about the industry and explore opportunities to start their careers. The students did a brilliant job on this challenge, and I’d be delighted if any of the students were considering MASS for their future career.”

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Neil Patterson, Principal of the UTC said, “It’s been wonderful to see our students develop over the week as they’ve learned more about what they can actually do. One student said they felt less of a consumer and more of a developer after the experience. Listening to them talk about how their knowledge could be applied in multiple industries in a changing labour market was energising. I’m really grateful to MASS for the time and effort they’ve put in to giving our students a truly unique opportunity, and I’m hopeful that they may have met some of their future employees.”

Kevin Gladwin, MASS’s Business Development Manager said, “What a great week for the students, to see some practical application to their studies. Wonderful for MASS to have initiated a relationship with Silverstone UTC, which we hope to progress over the coming months and years.”

Silverstone UTC has been building high-performing, work-ready, young people for eight years. In September 2021, we expect to welcome our 2000th student. Alongside our specialisms of Engineering and Business with Events, we are developing a new specialism of Cyber-security for the forthcoming academic year.

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