Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Crime Security Technology

The Coming Terrorist Threat From Autonomous Vehicles 214

HughPickens.com writes: Alex Rubalcava writes that autonomous vehicles are the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists and open the door for new types of crime not possible today. According to Rubalcava, the biggest barrier to carrying out terrorist plans until now has been the risk of getting caught or killed by law enforcement so that only depraved hatred, or religious fervor has been able to motivate someone to take on those risks as part of a plan to harm other people. "A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of fertilizer to the place he intends to detonate it," writes Rubalcava. "A burner email account, a prepaid debit card purchased with cash, and an account, tied to that burner email, with an AV car service will get him a long way to being able to place explosives near crowds, without ever being there himself." A recent example is instructive. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified by an examination of footage from numerous private security cameras that were recording the crowd in downtown Boston during the Marathon. Imagine if they could have dispatched their bombs in the trunk of a car that they were never in themselves? Catching them might have been an order of magnitude more difficult than it was.

According to Rubalcava the reaction to the first car bombing using an AV is going to be massive, and it's going to be stupid. There will be calls for the government to issue a stop to all AV operations, much in the same way that the FAA made the unprecedented order to ground 4,000-plus planes across the nation after 9/11. "But unlike 9/11, which involved a decades-old transportation infrastructure, the first AV bombing will use an infrastructure in its infancy, one that will be much easier to shut down" says Rubalcava. "That shutdown could stretch from temporary to quasi-permanent with ease, as security professionals grapple with the technical challenge of distinguishing between safe, legitimate payloads and payloads that are intended to harm."
(And don't forget The Dead Pool.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Coming Terrorist Threat From Autonomous Vehicles

Comments Filter:
  • Massive and stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @11:54AM (#50421159)

    is going to be massive, and it's going to be stupid. There will be calls for the government to issue a stop to all AV operations, much in the same way that the FAA made the unprecedented order to ground 4,000-plus planes across the nation after 9/11.

    That wasn't a stupid decision. It was a reversible order to prevent any immediate further terrorist attack that might be planned until they could get a handle on the situation and figure out who we were at war with and what to do in terms of airline security. While we ultimately made really stupid decisions about airline security, it was the right call. If you remember the mood of the general public on 9/11, we would all have considered it profoundly stupid to let most commercial airlines fly right after that, at least without better precautions than were standard. They had just flown an airplane into the Pentagon and another had crashed on its way toward the Capitol or White House. We had thousands of planes in the air we were trying to keep track of and only a few military jets ready to intercept.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      It was a knee-jerk panic-reaction that played into the terrorist's hands by massively amplifying the damage. If that is not utterly stupid, I do not know what is. Of course, governments must always appear to "be in control", so they cannot admit any error. And of course, if the FBI had not screwed up so massively before, nothing noteworthy would have happened on 9/11. But again, that cannot really be admitted, and the very agency that made 9/11 possible is still in charge of fighting a repeat, when it shoul

  • AV car services will not allow the car to transport luggage if there is no person in it. Sure, there are legitimate uses for this case, but they can be handled by a courier service - one that also uses AV technology, but not very much different than the current post services.
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      The problem then becomes, how to prevent the clever bad guy (with physical access to an AV for as much time as he needs) from fooling the AV into thinking it is carrying a person.

      • by swell ( 195815 )

        Why would you think that AVs are only for humans? Much of the world's transport has nothing to do with humans. Ships, planes, trains and road vehicles are used for products and materials delivery and even now there are very few humans in those vehicles or on the phone telling them where to go. In the future, shippers will find it expedient to remove the last remaining humans from the system.

    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @01:00PM (#50421473) Homepage

      And the simple solution to that, from the terrorist point of view, is just to use either a willing suicide bomber (there seem to be plenty of those) or an unknowing patsy.

      This is a load of fuss about nothing, firstly because the terrorist threat is not as remotely terrible as everyone seems to think it is, and secondly because autonomous vehicles really don't change anything at all.

      • And the simple solution to that, from the terrorist point of view, is just to use either a willing suicide bomber (there seem to be plenty of those) or an unknowing patsy.

        I'd guess for a first try, I'd put a suitably bound large dog or pig in the passenger seat.

        Oh wait, I think I might have just restated your suggestion.

    • :) yay, you've just added to the death toll of each terrorist attack by 1 kidnapped and unconscious passenger :)

  • Oh I believe it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 )

    The auto industry is utterly clueless compared to most industries about just how important security is when you "computerize" something. It's a toss up as to whether they or the medical device companies will be the first to produce a product with such shoddy security that a script kiddy can actually kill someone with a kit.

    And no, that's not sensationalism. You don't see any of them reacting to the news of hacked vehicles at various conferences with a bold corporate initiative to hire a Chief Security Archi

  • misdirection.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zm ( 257549 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:10PM (#50421241) Homepage
    They want you to worry about AVs, while they are actually learning to fly DRONES!
    • Drones, at least the hobbyist ones, are limited in both payload and range.
      • sure payload and range are currently limitations, but creativity, through say, fleets of autonomous drones (which are too AVs) are a possible approach in using hobbyist drones in the not too distance future.

        AVs are about doing things in scale, and it's going to change the paradigm--we're all thinking about these 'lone wolf' situations...

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        Some current hobby UAVs have more than enough payload and range for assassination or mayhem and they will be getting better on both accounts. Navigation and autonomous operation will be improving as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:11PM (#50421249)

    The problem is not terrorisst control, it is *State* control.

    If cars can be remotely controlled, it is *inevitable* the State will require the ability to do so - to prevent crime, terrorism, for safety purposes, you name it.

    All good reasons *but* with the appalling unintended outcome that the State will end up literally able to shut down at will every single car in the country, or have them lock their doors and drive themselves to the nearest police station.

    The last ten years have seen the expansion of State power into the complete monitoring of all commuication - in the next decade or so, the State will gain control over personal transportation. States are terrible things. They are so unable to act with and with only their intended consequence that any power they have causes great harm.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:30PM (#50421333)
    Why not social ones? There's two things that create terrorists, mental illness and poor economic conditions. Sane people in wealthy countries don't become terrorist, they've got better things to hope for than Valhalla. Crazy people will exist for about another hundred years or so until we figure out the mechanisms of the brain. Until then we can manage it with treatment.
    • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:39PM (#50421367)

      Really? Many of the idiots fighting for Daesh left middle class life styles in both Euro and Mid-East countries because they think they are fighting for a new order on this dirtball planet. It is the old order of 600 A.D., but they think of it as new. And they need Allah on the brain to deafen the cries of their suffering victims.

      • isn't really something to form a policy basis on, or even a +5 on /. . And we've got plenty of Christian fruit cakes here, they just mostly keep to beating up the black folk down south. Remember the KKK? Home grown terrorism at it's best.
  • CC companies and their clients aren't that stupid. If you try and sign up for zipcar with a prepaid credit card, it won't work.

    Ditto for any recurring billing CC service.

  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:38PM (#50421359) Journal

    I'm afraid of autonomous cars carrying drones that drop bombs and fire 3D printed weapons.

    I'm also afraid of drones carrying autonomous cars that are equipped with 3D printed weapons.

    And 3D printed weapons that fire autonomous cars from drones.

  • BULLSH!Tq (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:42PM (#50421387) Homepage
    Basically, what they did here was say "Well, there won't be any laws or safeguards, so the worst possible thing that we can think of will happen, will happen.

    I don't know all the laws and regulations we will create, but I absolutely guarantee you that unlicensed vehicles will NOT be allowed to drive around with no people and load of cargo, unless they picked up that cargo at a licensed and regulated facility (aka UPS, FedEx, Amazon, etc.). There will be sensors in non-licensed vehicles to make sure that if they have any cargo in them, they have to have a person in them at first. Licensed vehicles will most likely be airborne with very light cargo capacity at first (if you don't have a human, it makes more sense to fly).

    No, these sensors will not be easy to counter.

    And vehicles will also have hard coded restrictions on where they can go and can't go.

    The vehicles will NOT even have a receiving antenna, not at first. At first they will require instructions to be made inside the car, with the door closed - and cancel them when the door opens. They will however broadcast their destination to be recorded by the police, but not be able to receive any radio commands.

    And most importantly, it is already possible to JUST as much damage, simply by taking a stolen van full of explosives, parking it some place, and leaving it set to detonate in 20 minutes. The author of this paper is clueless about both the current level of risk we have and the level of risk we will accept in the future

    • I absolutely guarantee you that unlicensed vehicles will NOT be allowed to drive around with no people and load of cargo

      What do you mean by "allowed"? Do you imagine it being illegal, or actually impossible?

      No, these sensors will not be easy to counter.

      That's easy to say when you've only defined them as "these sensors." Will the vehicle refuse to move by itself if I leave a newspaper on the front seat? Or if it gets caked in mud after I drive it through a field, adding to the vehicle's weight? This will mean the end of stick-on Garfields as well!

    • You better go tell Google/etc that are developing these systems to start putting these safeguards in place.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:45PM (#50421397) Homepage

    honestly this is 100% stupid. If you dont think you can do this RIGHT NOW then you are an uneducated moron. Call up towing service and have a vehicle towed to the rear of a building, or a delivery service.

    Honestly Slashdot just needs to change it's name to Gizmodo.

    • plenty of hobbyists could make a remotely controlled car on the cheap for use in wifi covered city. Camera, used laptop, D/A board, linear actuators....would such gear need to cost more than $250?

      Sporting young terrorist wanting video game feel can realize cost savings by just worrying about steering while throttle jammed to good position, forget accelerator control and braking. Maybe forget about remote camera if in view of the venue.

      • Hey get real,

        yes "they" could,

        but "they" would get caught .. afterwards(like any terrorist)

        Also because they are leaving a serialnumber nightmare behind themselves,

        - turn your notebook on the back, mac + serialnumber

        - buy a gsm modem, IMEI .. ok there are some very few gsm/edge-modems where there is software out in the open to spoof the IMEI.

        But yes a disposable phone .. paid with a credit card for .. and videotaped your face on the survailiance cam.

        • those kind of terrorists really don't care if they're caught or killed, a remote controlled vehicle just give them chance to maybe make more attacks before being caught or killed. win-win for them

    • I hope everyone realizes that there are plenty of autonomous 'vehicles' out there. Right now. With limited security. Most single engine planes have highly developed autopilots. The hard part is getting one to take off autonomously. That could be solved by parachuting out after you reach level flight. Steal a Cessna 185 with your typical Garmin AP. Land it in some field, fill it up and take off at night. Jump out and off the plane goes. You won't get to the White House or the Capital building but y

  • Hysterical Title? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @12:49PM (#50421421)
    AVs might make it a little easier to do terrorism, but I'm not seeing order-of-magnitude change. Islamist radicals already have AVs in the form of suicide drivers. They go where they want and ram the gates down. McVeigh and Nichols were nowhere near the truck when it went off; the FBI figured everything out from serial numbers on the truck parts in a few hours.
  • Imagine if they could have dispatched their bombs in the trunk of a car that they were never in themselves? Catching them might have been an order of magnitude more difficult than it was.

    Or imagine if they could have found a vulnerable person, someone so suggestable as to be bordering on mentally ill, instilled him with their ideology and persuaded him to go out and get himself blown up.

    Or imagine if they hadn't actually given two shits about being caught or not.

    According to Rubalcava the reaction to the first car bombing using an AV is going to be massive, and it's going to be stupid.

    Why are the terrorists waiting for autonomous vehicles? They've got plenty of other options if they want to make a massive kaboom. Find a willing suicide bomber. Hire someone to do it unwittingly. Deliver the bomb by drone. Break in

  • Remember, we're just looking our for your safety*.

    *and by "your safety" we really mean "our own jobs."

  • from the summary
    "...the risk of getting caught or killed by law enforcement so that only depraved hatred, or religious fervor has been able to motivate someone to take on those risks as part of a plan to harm other people."

    Of course this Rubalcava guy wants to stir up excitement, panic, whatever. That's what people do during the slow times between real disasters. But I doubt that there are no other ways to harm people without risk. I could make a list but for the fact that unimaginative people like Rubalcav

  • This FUD submittal pales compared to the Corporations Without Rules folks that cheerfully brought us the Great Rescission/Depression of 2008. Voting with your wallet? How's that working for you, especially if a family member or friend is crippled or dead from a faulty product? And a comment that is just as stupid today as it was on the day it was first mouthed, "Corporations are People that speak by using money." Bad guys using Autonomous Vehicles is at best, a mild diversion.

    And while this thread is on
  • I don't see how this is a worst threat than the current situation provided there plenty suicide bombers available. The driver is only part of the problem to setup a terrorist action against a target. In addition, the AV is much more trackable than any other vehicle and then can be easily and quickly linked to the author. Which defeat partly the purpose of using an AV in first place to not be linked to the terrorist action.

    Do you really believe the insurance companies will let these vehicles running without

    • I don't see how this is a worst threat than the current situation provided there plenty suicide bombers available.

      Because brainwashing a suicide bomber takes time and effort and he can only be used once. And during that time and effort, there are lots of fail points and exposure to the authorities finding out about the suicide bomber. An individual hacking an AV to direct an attack doesn't require very much in the way of infrastructure or organization or time or effort beyond what is already in place. An

  • Not gonna lie; the first thing that came to mind was the "Beware the Grey Ghost" episode of Batman: The Animated Series. And however many other times RC cars have been used to blow things up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • The thing is (and this is conveniently overlooked by these utterly despicable and repulsive fear-mongers) that there is no effective way to fight terrorism. The only thing possible is after-the-fact identification. Almost all those "terrorists" caught by the FBI are fakes the FBI created itself. Any halfway competent terrorists got to detonate their bombs.

    But that means one very important thing (which is really bad for the cause of the fear-mongers and that is one reason they frequently go into hysterics):

  • I don't mean to pee in the swimming pool here, but why again exactly do we need autonomous cars, and what's the rush? Have we run out of humans to drive cars? Are there not enough vehicles on the road? Is there full employment to the point where we need robots to drive commercial vehicles because there aren't enough drivers? And don't tell me, "it will be safer" because as long as there are human-driven vehicles sharing the road, it won't be one bit safer to have autonomous vehicles in the mix.

    Every tim

    • Because drivers are terrible and stupid. Also, this article seems to be unhelpful in the pro AV agenda.

      When I pass an accident, I usually think "how inconsiderate" because there is statistically zero chance of an accident being anything other than bad driving. Weather related means the driver was going too fast for the surface or visibility conditions. The rare deer out of nowhere can be handled with better attention and reflexes.

      AV won't stop all crashes, with random events like the tire falling off, but i

  • Let's face it, an autonomous vehicle would have to be an AI device.Seen any AI devices lately? And,... were you impressed? You don't hear the word 'AI' much these days. After decades of promises and verylittle progress outside some niche areas who dare to come out say he's in the AI field?

    I saw a 'robot' this afternoon at a maker faire. Ridiculous. Driving a car through mixed traffic in a dynamic environment with pedestrians, children and old folks, unpredictable or incapacitated. It's impossible to do righ

    • You don't need AI to drive a car.

      Have a look at the Google car presentation at TED.

      If you record enough cars driving around long enough, you will get a big big database of interactions and you will be able to figure out how to identify the situations from sensor data and code an algorithm of how to react.

      Even though a robotic cars will eventually face situations they have never seen, the car will will be an order of magnitude safer than human driven cars. you just have to get the chance of an a sit
  • And people worry about little plastic quadcopters....
  • As always, governments act on potential threats to our safety after somehing has happened. It was obvious a train would be targeted, yet an attack on Thalys had to happen before EU governments started thinking about it. Same will happen with AV's. First an attack has to happen, then they will act. Please, governments of the world: here's your chance to, for once, act before another massacre happens.

  • has the scene where he uses what's meant to be off-the-shelf tech to allow him to remotely pilot the panel van into the police station before detonating it. If you can 'see' where you're going and you have basic L/R controls you don't need autopilots or AIs.
  • Thus from an old market a new market emerges.

  • Continuing to project the notion in the world that you (being any group at all) deserve and are worth attacking. Blowing things up is a pretty useless act, there are not many reasons people do it, and if you could limit the sense of doing it by say....not attracting it, its generally pretty rarely an issue.

    Course, when you go around dropping bombs on human beings and sending arms to opressive regiemes that do deserve it....well....guess what happens?

  • With police loving their Chrysler products - you can pretty much shut them down over a cell connection.
  • " Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified by an examination of footage from numerous private security cameras that were recording the crowd in downtown Boston during the Marathon. Imagine if they could have dispatched their bombs in the trunk of a car that they were never in themselves? Catching them might have been an order of magnitude more difficult than it was."

    Let's see. Car...registration, license plates...probably fingerprints, and random DNA from hair. Yeah, that will be a "magnitude more d

The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it. -- Anthony Burgess

Working...