During the Mad Hacks: Fury Code hackathon, teams were given a task by the National Security Innovation Network to develop technologies for the DOD. This task involved ensuring that human-controlled and autonomous vehicles can fight against cyberattacks without human intervention.
A team composed of six students, including two from Texas A&M University, was recognized as one of the top hackathon teams for their innovative solution called the PHC (picryption, HIVE, clutch) Defense.
Autonomous vehicles are, by nature, prone to hacking. When used for the military, they must be equipped with complex technologies to ensure safety from hackers.
PHC Defense is a multilayered blend of software and mechanical measures that can autonomously fight against breaches in cybersecurity.
The first layer is picryption — a twist on regular encryption software that responds through encrypted pictures sent from the user to the system. If a file is received from an unknown user, the software can alert someone inside the vehicle.
If the picryption is compromised, the “H,” which stands for HIVE, takes over. The HIVE includes several layers of protection, but there is one that stands out — a radio, allowing users to speak through different radio frequencies.
The team understood that most autonomous vehicles run solely on software and programming. If these are hacked, how can the user operate the vehicle? Representing the “C,” this level is called “the clutch.” If the software fails, the driver can activate manual control.
The team is continuing to develop this solution for the DOD to help prevent these issues.