Mitra Mirhassani, Ikjot SainiUWindsor professors Mitra Mirhassani and Ikjot Saini head the SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, Canada’s first organization dedicated to countering threats to the connected transportation marketplace.

Centre to drive research and education in automotive cybersecurity

The University of Windsor will host Canada’s first organization dedicated to countering threats to the connected transportation marketplace.

The SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will build the skills, innovations, and policy to secure and protect connected and autonomous vehicles. Led by researchers recognized for their excellence in the automotive industry, it will partner with industry, government, and community stakeholders to respond to an emerging transportation landscape driven by connections and sensors embedded in vehicles, infrastructure, and the manufacturing supply chain.

The co-founders and co-directors — Mitra Mirhassani of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Ikjot Saini of the School of Computer Science — note that modern vehicles have more than 100 million lines of computer coding and 20 sensors transmitting wireless data, with more connecting in every new vehicle.

“Hardware and software vulnerabilities could put personal information and vehicle safety in jeopardy,” says Dr. Mirhassani. “Transportation systems are especially susceptible to attacks from malicious actors due to the complexity, implementation costs, and lifecycles of equipment and platforms.”

The centre got an important boost Jan. 27 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association (APMA), which represents producers of parts, equipment, tools, supplies, advanced technology, and services for the worldwide automotive industry.

APMA and SHIELD will collaborate in the developing market-based technologies to meet the needs of producers and consumers of advanced transportation systems. They will also work together to build academic programs that address the needs of industry.

“We hope that this partnership will help to advance a cybersecurity culture shift in the industry in Canada,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe. “There is much work to be done to protect our collective interest in advancing this country’s globally competitive automotive sector.”

The centre will also promote knowledge transfer among manufacturers, researchers, and the public to ensure that policies and standards reflect advances made in the field.

“We plan to offer consultation and test services to small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that will help that stay up-to-date,” says Dr. Saini. “Open-access publications and public webinars will widely share the latest information.”

The centre will also work with UWindsor Continuing Education to develop course content and micro-credentialing that will align with industry needs. Cost-effective, flexible, and online training programs — including custom-designed certificate programs — will ensure that the Canadian workforce maintains its edge.

“The University of Windsor is excited to partner with APMA on this important collaborative initiative,” said K.W. Michael Siu, UWindsor vice-president, research and innovation. “We feel strongly that SHIELD is a critical step in advancing cutting-edge cybersecurity knowledge, technologies, and policy in the automotive sector.”