Your Car Is Surprisingly Easy to Hack

If you have an autonomous vehicle super-connected car (and many cars these days are super-connected) there’s a chance that hackers could get into your automobile’s computer system. The potential problems that a hacker could create include everything from changing your radio station to taking complete control of your vehicle. Frightening, isn’t it? Can hackers get into your car, and is there anything you can do about it?

A red 2021 Jeep Cherokee parked on the beach.
2021 Jeep Cherokee | Jeep

How do hackers hack your car?

The Detroit Free Press talked to Moshe Shlisel, the CEO of GuardKnox Cyber Technologies. They found that pretty much any car is hackable. Not only that, but there are numerous ways to get into your vehicle’s system. Shlisel says, “We have taken whatever model [car] you think of and we hack them through various places. I can control your steering, I can shut down and [start] your engine, control your brakes, your doors, your wipers, open and close your trunk.”

To hack your car’s system, all someone has to do is find a weakness in your vehicle’s software. Although it may take some time for someone to find a loophole to gain access to your vehicle, it isn’t always overly difficult. With enough time, a dedicated hacker can get into a fairly complex system.

Automobile cybersecurity attacks are on the rise

Upstream Security looks at cybersecurity threats to the automobile industry. They put out the 2021 Global Automotive Cybersecurity Report. According to Upstream, 86% of the global car market will be connected by 2025. Connected means data is shared between servers, apps, phones, etc. As a result of this connectedness, there are a whole lot of opportunities for vehicles to be hacked. 

The increase in the number of cars connected, as well as the various ways in which cars can be connected, leaves a whole lot of vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit. Additionally, the sheer amount of data that vehicles use and store make them a particularly attractive target for hackers. Cyber threats include ransomware, a hacker gaining access to your car’s infotainment system, and even a hacker being able to remotely drive your car.

According to Upstream’s report, the FBI has a dire warning for the automotive industry. They say, ““the automotive industry likely will face a wide range of cyber threats and malicious activity in the near future as the vast amount of data collected by Internet-connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles become a highly valued target for nation-states and financially-motivated actors.” 

How can you protect yourself from car hackers?

The best defense against car hackers is car manufacturers proactively preventing automotive cybersecurity attacks and addressing vulnerabilities quickly and effectively. Multi-layered cybersecurity solutions can help bolster weaknesses and prevent attacks. 

There are things you can do to protect yourself from an automotive cybersecurity attack. Keep your software updated so that any bugs that have been addressed by your car manufacturer are fixed. Additionally, if your vehicle is recalled, get it repaired quickly. 

Be careful of third-party devices and scan any USB devices that you plan on using with your car. You should also try to avoid remote entry. You can also keep your key fob in your freezer or an aluminum-foil lined box. 

Although you should be aware of the possibility of an automotive cybersecurity attack, you don’t need to panic. Just keep your software updated, be sensible about the devices you use with your car, and keep your software up to date. As automotive technology advances, so should car manufacturers cybersecurity defenses. Stay up to date on what’s going on in the automotive cybersecurity world so you always know how to protect yourself.

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