How to Protect Your Car from Hackers

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Serving Gainesville, Cumming, Toccoa ,Jefferson, and Atlanta, GA

How to Protect Your Car from Hackers

When a mobile or handheld device is accessed by hackers, you get to lose your data. But what if that new fancy smart car that you recently acquired ends up being the target? It means that you may end up losing your life.

What Is Car Hacking?

Although it is still in its infancy stages, cybersecurity experts are speculating that car hacking is likely to become a very serious problem in the next few years. Vehicles have started becoming increasingly connected to the World Wide Web. And with each new model being released by the manufacturers, we are staring at a bleak future filled with all sorts of cyber-jacking stories.

Car hacking is still rare, but it is something that has already been tried and found to be possible. At the moment, it is not possible to turn off your car engine, yet, but the reality is that car break-ins through the use of the keyless entry system is definitely possible. By hacking their way into your car, it means that thieves can easily circumvent the default security system and empty it of any possessions that you may have left behind.

What is making us even more vulnerable to this car hacking attempts is our ever-continued insistence on remaining connected at all times. The irony here lies in the fact that for you to protect your car from hackers, you will need to use some old school tricks to keep the hackers at bay.

The following are 5 strategies that you can use to reduce your vulnerability to ruse and computerized theft:

  1. Stop Relying On the Keyless Systems to Secure the Car Doors:

    We know you are probably wondering why we are recommending this; yet, manufacturers have hailed it as a revolutionary technology meant to protect your vehicle. On the other hand, it appears that the easiest hack when it comes to motoring is to break into a car in order to empty it of all the available goodies. And the fastest way for a car hacker to do this is to scan the push-button latch mechanism installed in the vehicle.

    There are currently very many ways to go about this, but in spite of the fact that they are all different, they have a single thing in common: you have to lock your automobile distantly as you move away from it. Therefore, what you need to do here is to do away with your key fob. It is time you started using the central locking mechanism located on the car door. By doing away with the fob, it means that there will be no transmission and as such, no unauthorized access. Equally, it will not matter whether you will use the fob to open the car, as by doing so, you will be getting away from any threat that may have been present on site.

  2. Resist Plugging Unknown Thumb Drives into the Vehicle Dashboard:

    Do you know that your car’s neuro-system can easily be accessed via the data enabled USB ports present on the dashboard? Keep in mind that these are the same ports that you will need to use when you are updating the system software. But on another twist, you would still need to install a thumb drive into one of these ports so as to install a patch to correct any issues that could currently be present.

    Since the inception of smart cars, security experts have gone out of their way to try and caution the public against plugging unknown thumb drives into their car’s USB ports. The ports are easily compromised, as has been seen with past cases where snail mail has been used.

  3. Consider Placing the Keyless Fob into Your Refrigerator Each Night:

    It does sound completely ridiculous and odd, but it does work. The alternative to letting it lie all night in your refrigerator would be to wrap using a tin foil when not in use. Even though this particular hack is not as popular as the transmission exploit that was discussed earlier, it is a bit more complex as it involves the use of an amplifier.

    What the hacker does is use the amplifier to fool your vehicle that the keyless fob is close to your car, therefore, granting access to the person using the amplifier. Another thing to note is that if your vehicle has been using the push-button start, the system will also be fooled into thinking that the car immobilizer is close to it. What does this mean for you? When you wake up in the morning, you will not only find your belongings missing, but the vehicle will not be at its usual spot.

  4. Install an OBD Lock:

    Not sure what an OBD lock is? Well, OBD refers to the vehicle onboard diagnostic system. This is a system used by the vehicle to link to the external universe. It also acts as a portal that can be used to diagnose the repairs that need to be carried out when it has broken down. You will note that all vehicles today come with a port that makes it easier for technicians to gain access to the different machines that are controlling the vehicle.

    This means that it also provides hackers with a very simplified method of getting access to the car’s computer. A hacker will need to get access to the automobile for this ruse to work. However, once access is gained, they can pretty much do anything they like with it. You must, therefore, ensure that it is properly locked.

    Moreover, the OBD port can also be used to grant access to the Electronic Data Recorder installed in your vehicle. The EDR happens to be a chip that records how you drive, the speeds you use, and your acceleration and deceleration tendencies. With the lock, you also get to gain additional privacy as nobody can get access to the chip data without you knowing about it.

  5. Hide the Vehicle Wifi Password:

    This one is simple and very easy-to-implement. If the vehicle you are using came with its own Wifi, you need to ensure that the password remains hidden at all time. And this means ensuring that you do not write it on a paper and leave it behind on the glovebox. Doing so will mean that you will become vulnerable to an attack in the event that someone gets to break into the automobile.

If You Get Hacked, What Should Be Your Next Course of Action?

If you suspect that the car has been hacked, or someone has attempted to hack it, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recommends that you do the following:

  1. Go online and check whether there have been any software updates or vehicle recalls for your vehicle model. You can do this by checking the vehicle manufacturer website to establish whether any new updates have been released.

  2. Get in touch with the authorized vehicle dealers or vehicle manufacturer. Make sure that you explain all the concerns that have been bothering you, and they may be able to offer you some assistance.

  3. Get in touch with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). This is the organization tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all manufacturers comply with the federal safety standards for all motor vehicles.

  4. Get in touch with the FBI. You need to contact the field office closest to you. Once done, be sure to also file a complaint with their IC3(Internet Crime Complaint Center)

In summary, there is no need for you to panic, just yet. As mentioned earlier, car hacking is a real possibility, but at the moment is not very common. Although this is likely to change as more vehicles get connected to the internet, the best you can do at the moment is to be cognizant of these threats, and always ensure that the software applications in the vehicle are up-to-date.