Vehicle Cybersecurity: How Can I Protect My Car?
Today’s newer motor vehicles have become more and more reliant on computer technology to manage and improve their operations and safety. The computerized systems in your car are now connected to the Internet, and seamlessly link with your other electronic devices, including your smartphone and your online storage of music and other applications. Along with this connectivity comes the risk of hacking, a familiar threat: your vehicle, like your laptop computer and your smartphone, is accessible to hackers.
Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that one hacker reportedly used GPS tracking apps to access thousands of vehicles overseas by hacking accounts that companies use to manage their commercial fleets. In 2015, the article noted, Fiat Chrysler voluntarily recalled 1.4 million vehicles after security researchers, using pathways in onboard entertainment systems, discovered a way to disable a Jeep Cherokee’s brakes and steering while the car was on the highway.
The auto industry has played down the risks, while assuring drivers that automakers take the threat seriously and are working on shielding vehicles’ computer systems from possible intruders. The Alliance of Automobile Makers argued defensively that “Vehicles are highly complex with multiple layers of security, and remote access is exceedingly difficult by design.” The focus of the problem has been on keyless locking and ignition systems, which can be vulnerable to hacking.
What can owners and drivers do to protect their vehicles? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet, at least not yet. However, you will be wise to adopt “good cybersecurity practices,” especially when pairing a smartphone with a car. Be sure to delete phone data from rental cars if phones were paired with the rental vehicle.
Here are some tips from avg.com:
- Keep in touch with your car’s manufacturer to find out about software updates or vehicle recalls if necessary.
- Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall page from time to time.
- Update your car’s software.
- Store your keyless remote in the fridge (or faraday bag).
- Turn off your car’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use.
- Hide your car’s Wi-Fi password.
- Scan USB drives before plugging them into your car.
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