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Car hacking and how to prevent it

Car journeys are no longer a simple case of getting from A to B. Thanks to technological advancements, drivers can take phone calls when on the move, be guided to new destinations with built-in sat-navs and even control their cars hands-free with voice assist technology. 

Now cars are not only modes of transportation, with their systems becoming increasingly complex and, with some even going as far as calling them “computers on wheels”. All of these somewhat recent computerized additions to our vehicles begs the question, if we protect our computers with the latest anti-virus software and top of the range technology to prevent hacking, so why not take the same precautions with our vehicles? 

A study from Confused.com which looked into connected cars has revealed just how much data our cars collect on us, from location history and phone call history, to our music taste and driving habits. Most drivers don’t understand the complexity of their car’s software and an even bigger majority are blind to the possibility of their car being hacked. 

There are different ways that hackers can access cars such as remote keyless entry, brake interference and forcing acceleration – all of which can put drivers at very serious risk. 

Luckily, Confused.com, explains how you can protect your car and your information: 

Regularly update your car’s software –  

Hackers are getting more and more intelligent; hence why car manufacturers are regularly sending out important updates to fix gaps in their security systems and sort any vulnerabilities. Most cars will allow automatic updates which is a good idea to ensure all the software and internal systems update automatically. 

Clear your data regularly  

Most car manuals will have clear instructions on how to wipe your data or you can also take your car to the dealership, where they can ensure that all the information about driver habits, location, paired devices, etc. is removed from the vehicle. Taking precautionary measures to regularly clear your data means that there is less data for hackers to obtain and breach. 

Take care when connecting external devices  

External devices can easily pick up viruses, which can then be transferred to your car when connected. That’s why it’s good practice to always run checks on all external devices and never plug them into your car before you know they are clear of any bugs. 

Be aware of third-party apps and software 

Some connected cars now allow drivers to download apps on their infotainment systems. However, installing untrustworthy apps that are not approved by your car’s manufacturer may put your car at risk. Therefore, you should always read reviews of apps before downloading, especially those that require payment details, and only download apps that have been approved and reliable. 

Use your common sense 

Nowadays, most modern cars will come with connected features. But, if you’re a fan of standard features and are unlikely to use Bluetooth audio or hands-free phone calls, don’t connect your smartphone in order to avoid any unnecessary data storing. As well, don’t share your password or allow people to have access to your car information that they don’t need to. Again, treat your car like you would your computer. 

Value cybersecurity as a feature for your next vehicle 

New car purchases don’t tend to be about how much horsepower, mileage count and how the vehicle handles anymore. It’s more about the features the vehicle brings (e.g. lane detection, safety, security, smartphone compatibility). But with automotive hacking becoming more present than ever, how cyber-secure a vehicle is should really be taken into account too when buying a vehicle. 

We hope you put these tips to good use and ensure safety for you and your data. 

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