Can Your Car Get Hacked?

That’s a question that most of us don’t think about. Today hacking your car is possible, though it hasn’t happened in the real world very often if ever. It has happened when researchers tested the electronics and communications in an auto.

When you sit back and think about this, the newer cars are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable. Most modern cars have key fobs that remotely lock and unlock the car; some even have a remote start. Some auto manufacturers install Telematics that will collect and transmit data from your vehicle to a central computer server. This transmission or in car data storage can be hacked. Let’s list some of the items that might be hacked:

Telematics: As stated above this is the collection and transmission of your car data.

Door Locks: These are usually operated by using a key fob using an encrypted code that matches a code in your vehicle.

Smartphones: Most modern vehicles provide a way for you to connect your smartphone to your vehicle’s entertainment system. This would be a way to introduce a virus by a contaminated App or a hacked MP3 audio file; a video file can also be hacked to transmit a virus.

Key Fob: As discussed above these are used to lock and unlock the vehicle; they can also be used to remotely start a vehicle. It sends an encrypted code that would be difficult for someone to hack and de-encrypt. However, this code could be intercepted as it goes from the fob to the vehicle.

Wi-Fi: Some autos have a built in W-Fi system. I think by now most people realize that a W-Fi system is susceptible to hacking.

Ignition: When we get into our new vehicles we push a button to start it. The key fob is usually in our pocket or purse which we rarely take out. The communication between the key fob and the vehicle is usually a Bluetooth communication. This would be an area that hackers might be able to control.

At each new model year auto manufacturers add more features to their vehicles, these features are usually additional electronics or computer controlled items. Both Apple and Microsoft are working hard to try and get into vehicles at the manufacturer’s level.

The good news is that the auto manufacturers know all of this and are building in anti-hacking defenses. The manufacturers are building defenses into their auto computers and communications and so far it seems to be working.