Complex Made Simple

Connected car hacking: 6 ways you can protect your data

While new car technologies are emerging, so are the ways in which hostile hackers can violate your car’s software

It is a good idea to ensure all the software and internal systems update automatically Regularly clear your data to make sure there is less data for hackers to obtain and breach You should always read reviews of apps before downloading

While new car technologies are emerging, so are the ways in which hostile hackers can violate your car’s software. Reports from last June revealed nearly every car manufacturer had been hacked. Professional hackers can gain control of a vehicle’s systems or access a driver’s personal data in most modern cars pretty easily, and insurers are becoming aware of this threat.

A brand new study released by car insurance experts, Confused.com, reveals just how much data our cars collect on us, from location history and phone call history to our music taste and driving habits.
Hackers can access our cars via methods such as remote keyless entry, brake interference, and forcing acceleration – all of which can put drivers at serious risk.

With constant technological advancements over the years, drivers may not understand the complexity of our car’s software and are blind to the possibility that it could be hacked.

Therefore, Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, shares six expert tips drivers can use to help protect their personal information from being at risk of hacking:

Regularly update your car’s software
With hackers getting more and more intelligent, car manufacturers regularly send 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 storage. 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.

The connected cars report from Confused.com also reveals:
• Impact on insurance premiums
• Connectivity costs of connected cars
• Whether connected cars make you drive safer