The U.S. Marines completed the first extensive adversarial cyber testing of the Light Armored Vehicle, or LAV, at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton on Feb. 9, according to a press release from the service March 23.
To identify cyber vulnerabilities within the LAV system, Marine researchers launched disruptive cyberattacks against the vehicle during a simulation.
“We looked at how we can disrupt the mission,” said Chim Yee, a cyber engineer for the Marine Corps.
Cybersecurity assessments like this one, operated by the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA), can provide insight into cyber vulnerabilities and the potential mission impact of such vulnerabilities, according to Capt. Brian Greunke, MCTSSA network test engineer.
Grueunke pointed to recent examples from the commercial sector to illustrate cyberattacks on vehicles. In 2015, hackers gained remote access to a Jeep’s internal computer network, taking control of physical components like the engine and wheels.
“As vehicle platforms change vehicle control from a purely mechanical form to a digital form, the surface area for attacks increases significantly,” said Greunke.
The Marine Corps declined to comment on the results of the vehicle’s cyber tests, saying that the information is classified.
The all-terrain, all-weather reconnaissance vehicles began service in the 1980s and have undergone numerous updates and changes throughout the decades. The Marine Corps upgraded half of its current 800 vehicle LAV fleet in 2016 and is planning on keeping them in service until 2035, while it searches for a next generation replacement.