Can Your Car Be Hacked?

Every device that connects to the internet can be hacked, including your car. We’re all familiar with what can happen if your phone or computer gets breached. You’ll lose access to your data, lose your money, or get your identity stolen.

But if hackers take control of your car, the problems are immediate and deadly. Here are some of the most dangerous things cybercriminals can do to your vehicle:

Disable Brakes. Hackers can get into your onboard computer and turn off the brakes if you’re using your electric car on autopilot. The same thing can happen if you’re in control since microprocessors still send the signal to the braking system. If the system stops working, your brakes stop working.

Rapidly Accelerate. Hackers can take control of the acceleration system. Cybercriminals can hack into power locks, deploy airbag systems, and force your car to accelerate. Even if you can control your steering wheel, the rapid acceleration (combined with no brakes) is not something you want to happen.

Mess with your AC. It’s scorching hot outside. You get in your car and turn on the AC. To your surprise, instead of cold air blasting through the system, you get more hot air, the seat warmers turn on, and your car locks up. You’re cooking. The reverse scenario can happen in the winter, where you get locked into a freezing car that keeps getting colder.

All these situations are unlikely, but they’re still possible.

How to protect your car from getting hacked?

Hackers still haven’t set their sights on vehicles, and cyberattacks on cars are very hard to pull off. However, as electric vehicles become more mainstream, this could become the future we all live in. Here’s how to protect yourself.

Drive an older car

If the car doesn’t connect to the internet, it can’t be hacked. Instead of having all the connected features, go for an older model and wait until manufacturers catch up to cybercriminals and know how to protect cars from cyberattacks.

See what hackers are talking about

Hackers spend their time on the dark web, sharing their findings and selling data they steal. You might have to do some dark web monitoring to see if they have gotten your data to avoid unsafe trips. Also, it would help to check what the general sentiment is before opting to get a new electric vehicle. If there’s talk about performing mass-scale car cyberattacks, it’s better to lay off a purchase and go for something gas-powered that works on simple mechanics.

Use reputable shops

Physical access to your car is the easiest way to take control of it or hack it. Whenever you’re taking your car for repair, you’re running a risk that mechanics can add a faulty part or hack the computer inside the vehicle. The process is so fast that they may tell you there’s no need for repairs. Only go to reputable shops and dealerships to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Don’t have your home address in your GPS

A hacker’s first target is your device. Their second target is your home. If you have your physical address in your GPS, it can be the breadcrumb that leads criminals to your doorstep. Of course, having your address readily available at all times is convenient, but if a hacker can get to your garage door, they can get to much more.

Don’t install suspicious apps

The easiest way to get malware in your car is to download untrusted applications. Vehicle infotainment systems aren’t protected, so malware can plow through the system without anything being able to stop it. Don’t install random apps or use the browser in your car. Use your phone for searches—and never do it while driving!

Check for vehicle recalls

In the age of hackable cars, there has been one case of recall for a bug that could be exploited for brake, acceleration, radio, and windshield wiper vulnerabilities. That happened almost a decade ago, but it’s still a stark reminder that mistakes can occur. As a car owner, you should be on top of any vehicle recall that may happen.

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