Every time we make advances in technology that make our lives easier, there’s always new challenges that come with it that we never had to worry about before. A perfect example of this is car hacking – modern cars are more connected and reliant on digital technology than ever before, and that has created some vulnerabilities.
The good news is, car hacking is not yet a widespread phenomenon, and the risks of having a hackable car will likely be limited to low-risk events like petty theft, or possibly having the car itself stolen. High profile individuals, like politicians and celebrities, might need to take greater precautions, as there is a theoretical possibility of their cars being hacked with more malicious intent.
In any case, there are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of car hacking, even if your car is very modern and susceptible to attack. Here are some ways you can protect yourself from car hackers.
Simple steps to protect your car from getting hacked
Preventing break-ins in keyless entry cars: The biggest problem we have right now with car hacking is intercepting the frequency on the key fob for keyless entry vehicles, and using it to break into the car. The fobs are constantly emitting their unique frequency so the car opens when you walk up to it, so a hacker nearby could easily pick this up. To protect your keyless entry car, you can buy a special RFID protector for your key fob. Another low-cost option is to wrap it up in aluminium until you need to use it.
Taking care with your OBD: Most modern cars have a port under the steering column for On-Board Diagnostics (OBD). Mechanics use the OBD port to diagnose issues when you take your car in for repairs, and it’s a very useful feature in this context. Lately, some auto insurance provides are offering devices that are inserted in the OBD port to track driving behaviour so drivers can get a discount. The problem is that the Bluetooth connection these devices use is a potential access point for hackers. So, if your insurer allows it, you should try to unplug the device whenever you aren’t using the car.
Be wary of phishing scams: Phishing isn’t just for stealing sensitive information via email anymore. Some car hackers could use these tricks to actually steal your car. Security researchers tested this in real life, calling car owners and scamming them into downloading a specific app on their mobile, claiming they would get a free hamburger at a local restaurant for doing so. They were then able to use the owner’s mobile to access the car.
There’s no need to panic when it comes to car hacking – there’s little reason to suspect that hackers will be randomly hacking into vehicles and shutting down their engines – but you should be aware of your potential vulnerabilities. Luckily, with a few simple steps, you can reduce your car’s risk substantially.