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McLaren

The tech driving Arrow McLaren SP to the top

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16
Nov 2021
16
Nov 2021
As Arrow McLaren SP looks back on a positive season, the team reflect on their key challenges and successes – and explain how AI and automation is leveraged in every aspect of their work – from driver simulation to cyber security.

As Arrow McLaren SP looks back on a positive season and prepares to build momentum into next year, Taylor Kiel (Team President) and Craig Hampson (Director of Trackside Engineering) reflect on key challenges and successes. With Pato O’Ward’s No. 5 car in the running to win the championship until the final race of the season, they reveal the formula for success – and how the team leverages AI and automation in every aspect of their work – from driver simulation to cyber security.

Data as the lifeblood for performance

In INDYCAR qualifiying, the difference between P1 and P10 can be as little as half a second, and when margins are that tight, the finer details in preparation make the difference. For us, that preparation is driven by data. Every race weekend and every practice session, over 100 lightweight sensors and several computers on the cars produce masses of data that is stored and analyzed for performance optimization.

This ecosystem includes an engine controller, a gear shift controller computer, and a computer unit that controls the clutch, and these systems all talk to each other across what is called a Controller Area Network (CAN). So the key question for us becomes: how do we get useful insights from that data, securely, and in a short period of time?

If you can think of something that’s happening on the car, the likelihood is our team is doing everything we can to try and measure it. Air speed, acceleration, tyre temperature, and so much more – we currently record over 1,500 data channels on the car itself, and we then process another 838 ‘math channels’ from combinations of this data – giving us, for example, the ride height of and downforce on the car.

This is more data than we can ever process with human beings alone, and a lot of our work now is figuring out how to automate these processes, using AI to look for patterns that humans simply cannot identify.

Pitting: More than just a tyre change

Each of our cars have two cellular-based telemetry systems built into them, but we are still limited on the amount of throughput we can observe real time, which is why we need to offload this data each time we pit during practice. This involves plugging in what we call an ‘umbilical cord’ that has a communication line and also powers the car.

Figure 1: A typical INDYCAR would last only minutes on its own battery without the engine running

Any typical race produces between 2.5GB and 3.3GB of data, in addition to in-car video, and a GPS system recording the car’s position on the track, which not only goes back to us but also to the relevant television broadcasters. So, we need to have a lot of storage available both in the cloud and on hard drives using a server. That data needs to be available not just to us at trackside but virtually to engineers not present at the race. And most importantly, that data needs to be secure, and protected from outside interference.

The cyber side: Turning to AI

All that precious data coming from the car, residing in the cloud or elsewhere in our organization, is susceptible to tampering from insiders and outsiders who may – deliberately or indirectly – compromise our ability to access or use that data reliably. As the cyber-threat landscape evolves – with ransomware bringing organizations of all shapes and sizes to a halt – we need to make sure we’re prepared for whatever attack is around the corner.

Firewalls, email gateways, and other perimeter protections are one part of the puzzle. But while these tools are focussed on keeping an attacker out – we needed another layer of defense that ensures that if these defenses are bypassed, we have an autonomous system that knows our organization inside out and can fight back on our behalf to disrupt emerging threats.

That’s where Darktrace has provided a revolutionary solution – using Self-Learning AI that understands every person and device from the ground up and identifies subtle deviations that point to a cyber-threat. And if ransomware strikes, 24/7 Autonomous Response is there in the form of Darktrace Antigena, taking precise action to contain ransomware and other threats at machine speed.

Double wins at doubleheaders

Using automation and AI throughout our technology stack enables us to extract meaningful insights from large pools of data and take quick, decisive action in the form of changes to the car or on-the-fly changes in race strategy.

The ability to react and react quickly is really put to the test on doubleheader race weekends, where any room for improvement you identify from Saturday’s race can be rectified in the form of overnight changes and implemented on Sunday. We believe it’s no coincidence that both of Pato’s No. 5 car’s wins came on the back end of doubleheader events, at Texas and Detroit Belle Isle. With people working in harmony with technology, our engineering team were able to make significant improvements to the car, react on the fly, and ultimately ensure we ended up ahead of the competition.

Digital fakes: Breaking new ground at Nashville

This year’s INDYCAR season featured a brand new track in Nashville, an exciting but daunting prospect for both the drivers and the team as a whole. Having access to a driver simulator, thanks to our partners at Chevrolet, we were able to run a virtual version of our car to try different setups, different techniques, and in this case have the driver learn his way round a whole new circuit.

Figure 2: The Chevrolet simulator projects a digital twin of the Nashville circuit

The track is recreated down to the nearest millimetre using a laser scanner, and then there is a lot of digital rendering involved, making it as realistic as possible with stands, fencing, and sponsor banners. Using this ‘digital fake’ representation was super helpful to the drivers in determining the correct approaches to corners, and for our engineers, enabling them to use the outputs to characterize the track.

The setup of the car in the simulator is effectively the same as the setup of the car in the real world: you set the spring rate and the ride height, it has the aerodynamic map, it knows the inertias and the masses of the car. It’s an incredibly complicated and powerful physics engine, but it gives us the ability to test things out in a controlled environment, and contributed toward one of Felix Rosenqvist’s strongest races of the season in the No. 7 car.

Simulations like these are the way of the future – not just for new circuits but in general. Rather than going through tyres and engines, we can replicate practice sessions in digital form, and the software gets closer to reality every day.

Looking ahead

What is next for Arrow McLaren SP? As we are now a part of the McLaren Racing family, new efficiencies and synergies are realized every month. We’ll certainly continue to leverage that valuable partnership, as well as our technology partnership with Darktrace, continuing to roll out their technology across our digital estate, including our email and cloud services.

In the INDYCAR Series, if you stay still, you go backwards, and the competition hots up every year. We know that now more than ever, the answer lies in using cutting-edge technologies across every aspect of the business to make our lives easier and ultimately propel us to the very top.

INSIDE THE SOC
Darktrace cyber analysts are world-class experts in threat intelligence, threat hunting and incident response, and provide 24/7 SOC support to thousands of Darktrace customers around the globe. Inside the SOC is exclusively authored by these experts, providing analysis of cyber incidents and threat trends, based on real-world experience in the field.
AUTHOR
ABOUT ThE AUTHOR
Taylor Kiel
Team President, Arrow McLaren SP

Taylor Kiel is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. His career highlights include starting with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2007 in Indy Lights before rising the ranks of now Arrow McLaren SP to president of the team. Kiel has been part of the team’s nine NTT INDYCAR SERIES wins and two Indianapolis 500 pole positions. He was also the race strategist during Pato O’Ward’s first career victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 2021 and led the team to a third-place finish in the point standings.

Craig Hampson
Director of Trackside Engineering, Arrow McLaren SP

Craig Hampson is a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Maryland. In Hampson’s career, he was the Indianapolis 500-winning R&D engineer for the team that fielded cars for Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) and Alexander Rossi (2016) and was at the helm of all four of Sebastien Bourdais’ Champ Car World Series titles and 33 of his 37 career NTT INDYCAR SERIES wins. Now, Hampson is the R&D Engineer at Arrow McLaren SP, and in 2020, he took on an expanded role as the race engineer for Fernando Alonso during the 105th Indianapolis 500. During the 2021 season, he served as the race strategist for Felix Rosenqvist and Juan Pablo Montoya on a limited basis.

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Customer Blog: Community Housing Limited Enhancing Incident Response

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04
Mar 2024

About Community Housing Limited

Community Housing Limited is a non-profit organization based in Australia that focuses on providing affordable, long-term housing and creating employment opportunities where possible. We give people the security of having a home so that they can focus on other essential pathways. As such, we are responsible for sensitive information on our clients.

As part of our commitment to strengthening our cyber security, we sought to simplify and unify our incident response plans and equip our engineers and desktop support teams with all the information we need at our fingertips.

Why Community Housing Limited chose Darktrace

Our team hoped to achieve a response procedure that allowed us to have oversight over any potential security risks, even cases that don’t overtly seem like a security risk. For example, an incident could start as a payroll issue and end up in the hands of HR, instead of surfacing as a security problem. In this case, our security team has no way of knowing the real number of events or how the threat had actually started and played out, making incident response and mitigation even more challenging.

We were already a customer of Darktrace’s autonomous threat detection, attack intervention, and attack surface management capabilities, and decided to add Darktrace for AI-assisted incident response and AI cyber-attack simulation.

AI-generated playbooks save time during incident response

I wanted to reduce the time and resources it took our security team to appropriately respond to a threat. Darktrace automates several steps of the recovery process to accelerate the rate of incident response by using AI that learns the granular details of the specific organization, building a dynamic understanding of the devices, connections, and user behaviors that make up the normal “pattern of life.”  

The AI then uses this understanding to create bespoke, AI-generated incident response playbooks that leverage an evolving understanding of our organization to determine recovery steps that are tailored not only to the specific incident but also to our unique environment.

For my security team, this means having access to all the information we need to respond to a threat. When running through an incident, rather than going to different places to synthesize relevant information, which takes up valuable resources and time, we can speed up its remediation with Darktrace.  

The playbooks created by Darktrace help lower the technical skills required to respond to incidents by elevating the workload of the staff, tripling our capacity for incident response.

Realistic attack simulations upskill teams while saving resources

We have differing levels of experience on the team which means some members know exactly what to do during incident response while others are slower and need more guidance. Thus, we have to either outsource skilled security professionals or add a security solution that could lower the technical skills bar.

You don’t want to be second guessing and searching for the right move – it’s urgent – there should be certainty. Our goal with running attack simulations is to test and train our team's response capabilities in a “realistic” scenario. But this takes considerable time to plan and execute or can be expensive if outsourced, which can be a challenge for organizations short on resources. 

Darktrace provides AI-assisted incident response and cyber-attack simulation using AI that understands the organization to run simulations that effectively map onto the real digital environment and the assets within it, providing training for actual incidents.

It is one thing to sit together in a meeting and discuss various outcomes of a cyber-attack, talking through the best response strategies. It is a huge benefit being able to run attack simulations that emulate real-world scenarios.

Our team can now see how an incident would play out over several days to resemble a real-world scenario or it can play through the simulation quickly to ascertain outcomes immediately. It then uses these insights to strengthen its technology, processes, and training.

AI-Powered Incident Response

Darktrace helps my security team save resources and upskill staff using AI to generate bespoke playbooks and run realistic simulations. Its real-time understanding of our business ensures incident preparedness and incident response are tailored to not only the specific threat in question, but also to the contextual infrastructure of the organization.  

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About the author
Jamie Woodland
Head of Technology at Community Housing Limited

Blog

Email

Beyond DMARC: Navigating the Gaps in Email Security

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29
Feb 2024

Email threat landscape  

Email has consistently ranked among the most targeted attack vectors, given its ubiquity and criticality to business operations. From September to December 2023, 10.4 million phishing emails were detected across Darktrace’s customer fleet demonstrating the frequency of attempted email-based attacks.

Businesses are searching for ways to harden their email security posture alongside email providers who are aiming to reduce malicious emails traversing their infrastructure, affecting their clients. Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC) is a useful industry-wide protocol organizations can leverage to move towards these goals.  

What is DMARC?

DMARC is an email authentication protocol designed to enhance the security of email communication.

Major email service providers Google and Yahoo recently made the protocol mandatory for bulk senders in an effort to make inboxes safer worldwide. The new requirements demonstrate an increasing need for a standardized solution as misconfigured or nonexistent authentication systems continue to allow threat actors to evade detection and leverage the legitimate reputation of third parties.  

DMARC is a powerful tool that allows email administrators to confidently identify and stop certain spoofed emails; however, more organizations must implement the standard for it to reach its full potential. The success and effectiveness of DMARC is dependent on broad adoption of the standard – by organizations of all sizes.  

How does DMARC work?

DMARC builds on two key authentication technologies, Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and helps to significantly improve their ability to prevent domain spoofing. SPF verifies that a sender’s IP address is authorized to send emails on behalf of a particular domain and DKIM ensures integrity of email content by providing a verifiable digital signature.  

DMARC adds to this by allowing domain owners to publish policies that set expectations for how SPF and DKIM verification checks relate to email addresses presented to users and whose authenticity the receiving mail server is looking to establish.  

These policies work in tandem to help authenticate email senders by verifying the emails are from the domain they say they are, working to prevent domain spoofing attacks. Key benefits of DMARC include:

  1. Phishing protection DMARC protects against direct domain spoofing in which a threat actor impersonates a legitimate domain, a common phishing technique threat actors use to trick employees to obtain sensitive information such as privileged credentials, bank information, etc.  
  2. Improving brand reputation: As DMARC helps to prevent impersonation of domains, it stands to maintain and increase an organization’s brand reputation. Additionally, as organizational reputation improves, so will the deliverability of emails.
  3. Increased visibility: DMARC provides enhanced visibility into email communication channels, including reports of all emails sent on behalf of your domain. This allows security teams to identify shadow-IT and any unauthorized parties using their domain.

Understanding DMARC’s Limitations

DMARC is often positioned as a way for organizations to ‘solve’ their email security problems, however, 65% of the phishing emails observed by Darktrace successfully passed DMARC verification, indicating that a significant number of threat actors are capable of manipulating email security and authentication systems in their exploits. While DMARC is a valuable tool in the fight against email-based attacks, the evolving threat landscape demands a closer look at its limitations.  

As threat actors continue to innovate, improving their stealth and evasion tactics, the number of attacks with valid DMARC authentication will only continue to increase in volume and sophistication. These can include:

  1. Phishing attacks that leverage non-spoofed domains: DMARC allows an organization to protect the domains that they own, preventing threat actors from being able to send phishing emails from their domains. However, threat actors will often create and use ‘look-a-like’ domains that closely resemble an organization’s domain to dupe users. 3% of the phishing emails identified by Darktrace utilized newly created domains, demonstrating shifting tactics.  
  2. Email Account Takeovers: If a threat actor gains access to a user’s email account through other social engineering means such as credential stuffing, they can then send phishing emails from the legitimate domain to pursue further attacks. Even though these emails are malicious, DMARC would not identify them as such because they are coming from an authorized domain or sender.  

Organizations must also ensure their inbound analysis of emails is not skewed by successful DMARC authentication. Security teams cannot inherently trust emails that pass DMARC, because the source cannot always be legitimized, like in the event of an account takeover. If a threat actor gains access to an authenticated email account, emails sent by the threat actor from that account will pass DMARC – however the contents of that email may be malicious. Sender behavior must be continuously evaluated and vetted in real time as past communication history and validated DMARC cannot be solely relied upon amid an ever-changing threat landscape.  

Security teams should lean on other security measures, such as anomaly detection tools that can identify suspicious emails without relying on historical attack rules and static data. While DMARC is not a silver bullet for email security, it is nevertheless foundational in helping organizations protect their brand identity and must be viewed as an essential layer in an organization's overall cyber security strategy.  

Implementing DMARC

Despite the criticality of DMARC for preserving brand reputation and trust, adoption of the standard has been inconsistent. DMARC can be complex to implement with many organizations lacking the time required to understand and successfully implement the standard. Because of this, DMARC set-up is often outsourced, giving security and infrastructure teams little to no visibility into or control of the process.  

Implementation of DMARC is only the start of this process, as DMARC reports must be consistently monitored to ensure organizations have visibility into who is sending mail from their domain, the volume of mail being sent and whether the mail is passing authentication protocols. This process can be time consuming for security teams who are already faced with mounting responsibilities, tight budgets, and personnel shortages. These complexities unfortunately delay organizations from using DMARC – especially as many today still view it as a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential.  

With the potential complexities of the DMARC implementation process, there are many ways security and infrastructure teams can still successfully roll out the standard. Initial implementation should start with monitoring, policy adjustment and then enforcement. As business changes over time, DMARC should be reviewed regularly to ensure ongoing protection and maintain domain reputation.

The Future of Email Security

As email-based attacks continue to rise, the industry must recognize the importance of driving adoption of foundational email authentication protocols. To do this, a new and innovative approach to DMARC is needed. DMARC products must evolve to better support organizations throughout the ongoing DMARC monitoring process, rather than just initial implementation. These products must also be able to share intelligence across an organization’s security stack, extending beyond email security tools. Integration across these products and tools will help organizations optimize their posture, ensuring deep understanding of their domain and increased visibility across the entire enterprise.

DMARC is critical in protecting brand identity and mitigating exact-domain based attacks. However, organizations must understand DMARC’s unique benefits and limitations to ensure their inboxes are fully protected. In today’s evolving threat landscape, organizations require a robust, multi-layered approach to stop email threats – in inbound mail and beyond. Email threats have evolved – its time security does too.

Join Darktrace on 9 April for a virtual event to explore the latest innovations needed to get ahead of the rapidly evolving threat landscape. Register today to hear more about our latest innovations coming to Darktrace’s offerings. For additional insights check out Darktrace’s 2023 End of Year Threat Report.

Credit to Carlos Gray and Stephen Pickman for their contribution to this blog

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About the author
Carlos Gray
Product Manager

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