Is Your Car Under Threat From Hackers?

Gone are the days of cars with simple engines and motors. While they still exist and can be purchased used, today’s new cars come complete with computers, delicate sensors, and a level of connectivity to various networks and even Wi-Fi that rivals your home. You might have learned of the complexity of your vehicle after a trip to Fort Collins auto repair, discovering that just one sensor can effect how your vehicle functions and set off that pesky “check engine” light, whether the sensor needs to be replaced or just cleaned up a bit.

A recent article in the Washington Post highlights a concern you may not have considered, especially if your car features all of the fancy bells and whistles like built-in Wi-Fi and OnStar service. The issue was raised by Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts – what risks does driving around with all of this technology built right into your car pose to your security when it comes to your privacy?

No Safeguards

Many new cars coming to the market with all of this connectivity haven’t really undergone testing to show how easy it is for a hacker to access your data. In fact, for the most part, these systems are completely unprotected. And how does he know? Markey sent letters to 20 top automakers asking exactly what they are doing to make sure customers’ data is protected. Furthermore, he wanted to know what data is collected, and where that data ends up.

It was demonstrated by a pair of researchers just how simple it is to hack into other vehicles. Things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections are vulnerable, but so are other things, such as your keyless entry system. These researchers took to national television, demonstrating on a slew of morning news programs how they were able to hack into a car’s braking and steering system. While this is an extreme case, it just shows the kinds of things that could be done with your super-connected car.


It seems manufacturers just didn’t think it through, how having these vehicles wirelessly connected opened them up to hacking vulnerabilities. Your auto repair in Fort Collins might not even realize just how vulnerable these systems are, though a good mechanic will know the ins and outs of even the most complex auto systems.

One group, ‘I am the Cavalry’, is working to pressure manufacturers into adopting some form of rating system so that consumers are able to see which cars are the safest in terms of privacy breaches as well as which ones rate highest in crash tests. In their eyes, our cyber security is just as important as our physical security.

The Data

What, exactly, can a hacker get his hands on in terms of data, anyway? Is there even a reason to be concerned? A good example is an in-dash navigation system, you probably have the destination “Home” saved in the navigation history, right? Now hackers can see exactly where you live. What’s more, if you don’t often clear your history, they can see where you’ve been.

Markey is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to step in and regulate manufacturers and the wireless technology systems Fort Collins mechanics are placing in vehicles these days. The goal is just to make sure your data is protected from the prying eyes of hackers. He is also asking for manufacturers to be clear regarding the data that is collected and what they do with the data so the consumer can decide if it is a risk they’re willing to take.

Are you at risk? What do you think of this issue? Are connected cars risky? Come find us on Facebook, and let us know where you stand on the issue — we’d love to hear from you.