Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked — And 8 Ways You Can Prevent Car Hacking
Keeping your car secure means hiding valuables, closing windows, locking doors, and turning on your alarm if you have one. But now, there’s a security threat many car owners aren’t thinking of: hackers. Everything can be hacked. Everything — including your car.
Can your car be hacked? The short answer is yes. With the advanced features in vehicles today, cars are essentially giant moving computers, vulnerable to bugs, viruses, and hackers just like any other computer or mobile device. Self-driving cars and vehicles with advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and automatic braking are particularly at risk, but practically any vehicle made in the past several years can be seriously disabled at the hands of a hacker.
Read on to find out how your car can seemingly develop a mind of its own, whether you can expect to experience a hack, and what you can do to prevent becoming a car hacking victim. Learn more about Effuel benefits.
How Hackers Can Attack Cars
Can a hacker stop your car or shut off your engine while you’re driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway? Theoretically, yes. They can do that — and much more. These are just some of the ways hackers can access your vehicle’s vulnerable systems and make driving difficult, dangerous, or uncomfortable for you:
- Tire pressure monitoring systems: Tire pressure monitoring systems tell drivers when their vehicle’s tires are too low or too high on pressure, offering helpful early warnings to get service. But when attacked, hackers can trigger warning lights and even remotely track vehicles through the monitoring system.
- Disabling brakes: You may control your brake pedal, but microprocessors in your onboard computer really make your brakes work. Hackers who get into your onboard computer can disable your brakes and even stop the engine.
- Manipulating vehicle diagnostics: Repair shops and dealerships today largely rely on onboard vehicle diagnostics systems to perform initial diagnosis of problems. But unscrupulous shops can manipulate your diagnostics system to make it appear that you need them to perform repairs that are not really needed.
- Changing the time, a song on the radio, or GPS destination: With access to your vehicle’s systems, it’s simple for hackers to make small, but important changes to your vehicle. Something as unnerving as switching your radio station could happen. They can even get into your GPS system and change the destination you’re heading to.
- MP3 malware: The music you listen to on your car stereo could hack your vehicle — really. Downloads with malware codes can get into your car’s infotainment system and make their way into other systems, including those that control your engine or brakes.
- Forced acceleration: Power locks today often have features such as automatic locking when the car is put into drive or reaches a certain speed. They can also unlock if the airbags have been deployed. Cars with interconnected systems like this are vulnerable to problems such as hackers using power locks to force a car to accelerate.
- Extended key fob range: Wireless key fobs today unlock car doors when the person holding them is close by. However, using radio repeaters, thieves can extend the range of the key fob, unlocking your car doors when you’re up to 30 feet away.
- Driving data downloads: Many vehicles, particularly those using GPS or telematics systems, record driving data. If hacked, this information could be used to exploit your privacy and even discover where you live, work, or take your kids to school.
- Smartphone access: Hackers may be less interested in your vehicle’s systems and more interested in your vehicle’s connected mobile phone — which can give them access to credit card information, passwords, and financial data. If they’re able to get into your vehicle’s system and find your connected mobile phone, your information may be at risk.
- Turning on heat in the summer or air conditioning in the winter: In extremely hot or cold climates, vehicle air conditioning systems are less about comfort and more about safety. But they are just as vulnerable to hacks as any other system. Hackers can blast hot air in the summer and even turn on seat warmers.
- Windshield wiper control: Windshield cleaning fluid is useful, but not when it’s released unexpectedly or continuously. Then, it can be a danger to your visibility. This system, along with your windshield wipers, can be hacked.