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There Are A Number Of Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked

Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 15:04

Car theft

Even though there are 110 car models vulnerable to one of the most prevalent digital attacks – theft of the vehicle via hacking of the keyless entry and ignition system – only half of the drivers with keyless access are arsed about their car being stolen.

Hackers can exploit security flaws to attack your vehicle, from key jamming to phone phishing for car access. 

The increasing prevalence of car technology creates even more opportunities for hackers.

Hacking methods

One of the most common approaches used by hackers is to attack cars with keyless access. Criminals use a relay system to access the vehicle by amplifying a key signal from inside a property so that it reaches the car on the driveway.

Drivers already disable their keys when not in use, by either placing them into a secure holder such as a microwave or a Faraday cage to block the signal.

Additional security weak spots include:

  • Phone phishing for car access – Most people are aware of phishing scams in general, but what’s less widely known is that hackers can email you malicious links that then connect to a car’s WiFi features, if it has them, and take control.
  • Local remote control apps – There are a number of car tracking apps on the market that allows users to locate, start and control their cars from their phones. While these can be handy for those with Internet-connected cars, they also open the users up to hackers who have proved they can manipulate the system to locate, unlock and even cut out the engine of nearby cars on the system remotely.
  • Tyre pressure monitor systems – Using low-cost, readily available equipment, hackers can use sensors inside a vehicle’s tyres to display false tyre pressure readings – and more worryingly, track the car.

Driver concerns

Despite the risks, drivers are still excited about cars with automation, Wi-Fi hotspots and biometric access. But these days people are becoming even warier and consider this new technology to be a security threat.

The drivers who were concerned may be right to be worried – Many themselves, or someone they know have experienced a form of car hacking. Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge surrounding the cover available for victims of these attacks. Most people admit they don’t know whether their car insurance policy would cover them if their vehicle were hacked.

Car hacking is little understood even though it's a very real threat. Manufacturers are adding increasing amounts of technology to our vehicles, and new technology comes with new risks that drivers need to understand and guard against.

Before purchasing a vehicle, carry out extensive research about it and its capabilities and limitations before purchase, and getting to know a vehicle you already own to make sure you’re aware of any potential security flaws. Sometimes an old-fashioned steering lock, can be all that’s needed to protect against criminals.

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