Drivers of Change: HORIBA MIRA’s Cyber Expert Wins National Industry Award

Madeline Cheah, Cybersecurity Innovation Lead at HORIBA MIRA

Madeline Cheah, Cybersecurity Innovation Lead at HORIBA MIRA has been awarded the top prize in the Digital category of Autocar’s inaugural Drivers of Change initiative.

With a host of industry awards and a PhD studentship under her belt, Madeline has seen huge success over the years – she’s a cybersecurity expert and true leader in her field, that has gone from strength to strength in her career. After embarking upon a PhD in automotive cybersecurity in 2014, Madeline now leads HORIBA MIRA’s world-class cybersecurity research team alongside a role as chair for the steering group and technical working group within the Centre for Connected Autonomous Automotive Research (CCAAR).

Having most recently been listed as one of Autocar’s Top 100 Women in the British Car Industry earlier this year, Madeline entered the Drivers of Change initiative. The primary aim of the competition was to find new and innovative talent for the automotive sector, across three key areas; Technology, Digital and Retail. It was open to both those already working in the automotive industry and those outside the sector, with the winners chosen by a team of judges made up of senior figures from each of the initiative’s sponsors; companies including Bentley Motors, Polestar, Volkswagen, HORIBA MIRA and McLaren Automotive.

Madeline’s winning idea was for Automated Offensive and Defensive Security (AUTOMODS), a platform to protect cars, including self-driving cars, from cyber attacks.

“We’ve seen a huge rise in the development of connected and autonomous vehicle technology but with that comes a corresponding rise in the risk of cyber threats. With current defences in vehicles relatively static, there is a critical need for sophisticated security within the industry,” said Madeline.

According to Madeline, the difficulty lies in the fact that an attacker is human, “a cyber attack will always have a human behind it; they are lateral thinking and creative and to take this into account is an incredibly tricky task, but it’s a task we need to work through in order to develop sufficient defences for future vehicles.”

AUTOMODS has four key elements; ‘attack trees’ which are models of potential cyber-intrusions which are then fed into a platform which then generates simulated attacks.  The results can then be used to prioritise defences. On another layer, machine learning can then be used to enable the platform to identify attacks automatically and find ways of defending. The final stage is an artificial immune system which enables the platform to identify and mitigate attacks.

Madeline was praised by the judges for her “innovative, smart and forward-looking” approach which could potentially solve a very real problem for the industry.

She said: “I entered Drivers of Change to see if the idea would appeal to the automotive industry, gather feedback and gauge acceptance so I’m really delighted to have won – it’s given me great confidence in the platform.

“Right now, we’re continuing to develop the platform’s infrastructure to ensure it is trusted and protected, alongside developing a business model as we’re planning to commercialise the first phase of the AUTOMODS platform next year.”

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