Protecting Connected Cars from Cyber Crime

Automotive security

A recent report of an audacious cyber attack on thousands of vehicles has crudely highlighted the vulnerability of increasingly automated and connected cars. Using GPS trackers, the cyber-intruder was able to track vehicles in commercial fleets and even shut down the engines of those that were slow moving. While it’s essential to ensure cars are safe for the road, with the accelerated increase in the use of technology, reviewing cybersecurity is becoming as important as checking the oil and water. Manufacturers are starting to design cars with integrated security features equal to the advances in technology. In the meantime, car owners can also take responsibility for increasing their car’s security to protect them from attack.


Safe Data Transmission


Cars with remote connectivity and high tech features are becoming more like computers than simply mechanical objects and need to be protected in the same say. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is aware that technologically advanced features must be protected from unauthorized access, and it is working to ensure that they are adequately supported by cybersecurity measures. Standard safety systems for vehicle data and communications systems are yet to be agreed. Until they are, VPNs are viewed as one of the most secure ways to safely transmit data between vehicles, onboard devices, and the internet. When coupled with a router feature allowing devices to establish outbound VPNs, all the vehicle’s connected systems are protected.


Security Hygiene


Sixty percent of security specialists in the automotive industry are worried that a lack of training and awareness is resulting in vulnerabilities in automotive software. Even more of them correctly predicted a malicious attack like the recently reported GPS hack. Concerned drivers can significantly reduce their cybersecurity risks simply by practicing basic security hygiene. Just as on any home or office computer, all devices in a car that are connected to the internet should have a strong password. In addition, owners should keep informed with news from their car’s manufacturer and ensure that any available software updates are added.


Protection from Theft


For cars with keyless ignition, the key fob is a particularly accessible feature for hackers. The fob sends a code to open the car doors, and, if sent from a distance, car thieves can amplify the signal to intercept the code and open the car. Drivers are advised to always store key fobs in a secure area. A metal box or aluminum foil will also block the amplified signals used by criminals, and protect the key from being hacked. Cars that can be unlocked and started using an app are also vulnerable, as a hacker simply needs access to the app in order to get into the vehicle. As well as using a strong password for the app, adding two-factor authentication will provide an additional layer of security.


As cars become more connected and technically advanced, their vulnerability to hacking increases. Although car manufacturers are attempting to match technological advances with adequate cybersecurity, drivers can also take responsibility for basic but effective safety precautions.


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