Are connected cars vulnerable to hackers?

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Words: NZ Autocar
29 May 2020

Nowadays upwards of two-thirds of new cars are ‘connected’, and that has seen a rise in cyber attacks over the past few years.

In the UK, hacks on connected cars rose seven-fold between 2010 and 2019, experts advising owners to clear all personal data from their cars when selling them.

So called ‘connected’ cars are fast becoming the norm, passing data to their maker via the Internet. It’s thought that within five years all new cars will have Internet connections.

A UK security firm, Uswitch, analysed 367 global data-breach incidents involving cars over the past 10 years and half occurred in 2019, a doubling in frequency compared with the previous year.

Evidently hacking of a mobile phone app used to locate and unlock a car can also show other peoples’ accounts and vehicle information. Thieves can hack apps and steal cars. One such attack exposed a Honda database, uncovering swathes of personal employee data.

Toyota has also suffered cyber attacks, hackers accessing servers with sales information relating to millions of customers.

Uswitch suggested limiting personal data logged in a car and using a physical security measure to prevent vehicle theft, like a steering wheel lock. Like computers, software in cars must be kept up to date. They even suggest keeping keyless fobs in a Faraday pouch!

Regulators and cybersecurity firms should ensure that connected car data is properly encrypted to reduce third party threats, and they must monitor what data is stored.

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