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Staying secure on the move

Technology within cars is constantly progressing and so is the need to stay secure on the move. Whether it be GPS systems or infotainment systems, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Furthermore, you would be hard pushed to find a modern car that doesn’t have an external device such as a mobile phone connected to it. However, with an increase in onboard electronics, comes an increase in risk. The opportunity for hackers to exploit these gadgets has also significantly increased with data being stored in our car’s computers. So, are we doing enough to stay safe on the road?

Vehicle systems

The onboard systems within modern vehicles now control almost every aspect of the car’s behaviour. This means that should a hacker gain access to the system they may have control over a variety of different actions. For example, they could force the system to show different warning lights despite there being no real issue. They could even go as far as to control the bakes or acceleration in theory. A further way the system may be affected is through malware from downloaded music files. If you use the stereo system within your vehicle and download tracks from the internet onto it, the files could contain malware and give hackers access to the system. Another element of a vehicle’s system that could be compromised by hackers is the GPS. This could be accessed and viewed by cybercriminals, meaning they are looking at commonly visited locations such as your home, place of work, or school. This effectively means you could be tracked without your knowledge every time you go for a drive.

Ultimately this form of attack is relatively unlikely because there is little to no financial benefit to the hacker whatsoever. That being said it is important to do what you can just to stay safe. For example, don’t save your addresses on your GPS systems, this makes it harder for hackers to know which addresses are significant. Furthermore, if you are taking your car for repairs or cleaning, use trusted shops so you know who has been in your vehicle. And finally, if a manufacturer finds a security flaw, they may recall the vehicle to stay up to date on any news from your manufacturer and if you have any concerns, contact them immediately.

Carjacking

One example of a security flaw such as this is back in 2015 when Chrysler were forced to recall 1.4 million vehicles. This was a consequence of finding a hackable software vulnerability in their Uconnect dashboard systems. The danger was that if hackers managed to access the vehicle’s system, they would be able to control the car in any way they wanted. This is shown in the image below when a journalist tested this security flaw and found the results to be rather shocking.

Hackers demonstrated to WIRED that they could remotely hijack a Jeep's digital systems over the Internet.

Chrysler released a patch for the system, updating the security within alongside the product recalls. Whilst there were no reports of serious injury as a result of the flaw, it did highlight the need to stay secure on the move.

Mobiles on the move

One of the main reasons we now need to stay secure on the move is the amount of data we carry around with us on a day-to-day basis. Specifically, within our mobile phones. Whilst hackers may not be interested in the information in your car’s system, if you connect your mobile phone to your car, this could be of value to them. By hacking into the car’s system they may be able to gain access to your mobile device, meaning they could have access to contacts, passwords, and even financial information. Once this data has been stolen the risk of identity theft or financial theft is far more likely.

There are however precautions you can take; for example, only give permissions on your device when necessary. There is no need to give away data freely. A key way to prevent this type of data from being stolen is by downloading security software for your device. Avira Free Security for mobile allows you go to about your daily life and stay secure on the move, for free. By downloading Avira Free Security, you can stop hackers in their tracks by using a VPN when browsing on the go, a password manager to securely store all your passwords, and get alerts if your email address has been breached.

The risks surrounding security in your vehicle and on your mobile device are inevitably increasing. But so is the technology to fight back against these risks. The key to fighting back is to stay aware of the risks and do everything you can to limit them. Make life difficult for the hackers by staying secure on the move.