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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Prevent Your Car from Getting Hacked

It's amazing how our cars are becoming more high tech. Many of us get to enjoy features such as hands-free conversations via Bluetooth technology, WiFi Connectivity, and cars that can correct our bad driving habits going as far as to be able to drive themselves. With all of the gadgets that come included in our automobiles is a growing fear that hackers can get into your car. The fear is they can steal your personal data, take over your car or even take your vehicle. How is this possible? Vehicle manufacturers are developing cars in which their components and networks act like smartphones and tablets. With more of these smart vehicles connected to the Internet, it opens up many possibilities for hackers which will allow them to gain access to your vehicle remotely. Should you be concerned and what can you do? Read on and I will share more information to help you stay educated and secure.

Auto hacking got its first scares back in 2015 when two security researchers used a laptop to remotely take control of a Jeep Cherokee. You will be shocked to find out what parts of the Jeep were remotely controlled. They were able to take control of the digital display, windshield wipers, climate control, radio, the brakes and transmission. Following up on that research, the researchers were able to access the same Jeep by placing a device in the OBD (On-Board Diagnostics Port) and control the same features. There is also the growing problem of Key Fob security as thieves have the ability to steal the code as it’s being sent to your car. Once armed with this information, thieves can steal your vehicle. Another thing to consider as smart devices are becoming more secure, cybercriminals may turn to vehicles and the systems that feed information to them to steal your personal data. Think of all of the data that your car holds such as your home address, frequented destinations and your current information. This data could become a gold mine for thieves who can take that information and sell it on the dark web ... information that could help criminals build a profile of you in an attempt to steal your identity.

Fortunately for us, auto manufactures take cybercrime seriously and update their software on a regular basis which cuts the risk of having your car hacked, but as smart gadgets, hacking is possible. If you want to take some extra precautions to keep safe, here's what you need to do:

1. Update your car’s software. Like your smart-devices, if you see an alert that your car wants to perform a software update, let it happen. Most cars will download updates automatically, but if your car has the option to delay your update you don't want to do it. Software updates for your electronics is a sign that a flaw has been discovered and needs to be fixed.

2. Stay in touch with your car’s manufacturer. Give your auto manufacturer your contact information so they can reach you about software updates or vehicle recalls if necessary. For extra protection, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall page. Just enter your vehicle identification number (VIN) there to see if there’s been a recall for your vehicle.

3. Hide your car’s Wi-Fi password. If your car has WiFi, don't share the password. Doing so will leave you open to an attack.

4. Protect Your Key Fob. The signal from your fob can pass through doors, walls and windows, but it can't pass through metal. consider storing your keys in a metal container or a signal blocking wallet will safeguard your vehicle against an attack. All it takes is for a thief to amplify your fob signal and they have access to your car.

5. Turn off your car’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you're not using them. A wireless or Bluetooth connection could allow criminals to access your car and take control of one or more parts of the vehicle.

6. Check that USB drive before you plug it into your car. Most of you are probably streaming your music from Spotify or Pandora, but I know there are some of you that like to play music from a USB drive and that's ok. Just make sure you scan any USB drive before plugging it in your car to verify it's virus-free.

As I stated, car hacking isn't very likely at this time, but they are possible. This is bound to change as more vehicles get connected to the Internet. In the meantime, you should be aware of the risks out there. Make sure your car's software is always up to date. If you notice anything that appears out of the ordinary from your car, report it to the proper authorities.

Want to ask me a tech question? Click here and send it in! If you prefer to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you.

If you need on-site or remote tech support for your Windows\Macintosh, computers, laptops, Android/Apple smartphone, tablets, printers, routers, smart home devices, and anything that connects to the Internet, please feel free to contact my team at Integral. My team of friendly tech experts are always standing by to answer your questions and help make your technology useful and fun. Reach out to us a or phone at 888.256.0829.

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