How To Protect Your Vehicle From Hackers

Nissan Altima

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How To Protect Your Vehicle From Hackers

In the era of automated technology and integrated systems, even vehicles are at the risk of being compromised by hackers. With the technology being used in vehicles, it is becoming easier than ever to hack into systems and take control from the person driving the vehicle.

One of the first demonstrations of this took place in 2015 when a duo of security researchers decided to conduct an experiment on a vehicle that was ten miles away from them. In this experiment, the duo was able to seize control of a Jeep Cherokee as it was being driven by its owner. The individual driving the vehicle was not informed before this experiment being conducted, leading to an incredible amount of surprise followed by a sizable buildup of fear. This experiment was the eye-opener that car manufacturers needed to upgrade the systems that they already had in place. Fiat was one company that decided to go the extra mile and issue a formal recall on all the automobiles that operated using similar technology to the one that the experiment was being conducted on. The reason? To prevent hackers from taking advantage of this exploit in their vehicles.

Parts Compromised

In this particular experiment, only certain components of the vehicle were compromised in a way that affected the functioning of the vehicle. This included the following:

  • The Radio
  • The Display
  • The Air Conditioning
  • The Wipers
  • The Wiper Fluid
  • The Brakes
  • The Transmission

Getting hacked is always frightening, no matter what part of the vehicle it might be. There are a few components that didn’t cause major concerns as they would not damage the car or threaten one’s life in any manner. However, the last two on the list are major causes for concern and security exploits that are incredibly dangerous for the driver and those sitting in the passenger seats.

How To Safeguard Your Vehicle

While your vehicle may be one of the newer models, there are always cyber threats that are being produced every day. Hackers are constantly developing new strategies to be able to compromise systems and vehicles, and protecting yourself is always essential. Even though you are not going to be protected one hundred percent of the time, keeping in mind, a few tips can help you minimize the potential for hackers to gain control of your vehicle.

Here are some of the steps that you should follow to ensure that your family, friends vehicle and yourself are well protected:

  1. Stay Up to Date With Your Car Manufacturer:

    Your car manufacturer is the one who will be able to provide you with the best resources to be able to protect yourself well. More often than not, people forget that it is in the best interest of the car manufacturers to protect the vehicles that they produce, which means that they tend to invest a good amount of resources into security measures. However, not all vehicles are going to have the most updated versions of the softwares and protective layers that manufacturers tend to develop, which then puts the person driving the vehicle at risk. The best way to stay up to date with your manufacturer is by providing them with your contact information. Generally, manufacturers tend to have a website wherein you can input your information such as your phone number or email address to receive notifications about your vehicle or any new security features that need to be implemented.

  2. Check The NHTSA Recall Page:

    While checking for constant security upgrades is incredibly important, it is also essential for an individual to know the status of their vehicle and whether or not there has been anything wrong with it. Car manufacturers aren’t always the fastest when trying to notify their customers about the recalls that are taking place, which is why turning to alternatives is better in this regard. It is always a good practice to constantly check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA website to know whether your vehicle is being recalled. To be able to properly know the status of your vehicle, you will need to enter the vehicle identification number that is generally located on your vehicle.

  3. Update Your Vehicle Software:

    If your car manufacturer does come out with any kind of software, it becomes important to update it in your vehicle at the earliest. One of the biggest mistakes that a vehicle owner can make is not improving on the current security that is implemented inherently in the vehicle. Hackers usually formulate their code based on the current systems that are working in the market. This gives them a number of targets that they can implement their hacks on, thereby making those particular people vulnerable. Because of this, staying ahead of the hackers is always the better option. Hackers are also not always as familiar with the newest software upgrades, or at least take a bit of time before they switch over to compromising the newer systems. This one simple step that has helped people be more protected when they are driving their own vehicles.

  4. Turn Off Your Vehicle’s Connectivity:

    One of the easiest ways in which hackers compromise vehicles is through the various lines of connectivity that cars are normally equipped with. These mainly consist of the vehicles Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. This is something that hackers can easily get access to, and all they need is a device that is able to connect to it simultaneously. There are several essential processes of the vehicle like the cars GPS and the sound system that use these modes of connection on a regular basis, which is why keeping them off while driving is not advised. However, when the vehicle is not in use, turning this off is one of the safer options that protects your vehicle from any kind of threat. One of the main reasons for this is the range of connectivity that hackers have to work with. Generally, Bluetooth and Wifi connections need to be fairly close to be able to get into. If your vehicle is stationary, it is incredibly easy for a hacker to move into its range and gain access to it. When your vehicle is moving, however, keeping up with that range is a lot harder, though not entirely impossible.

  5. Hide Your Vehicles Passwords Well:

    More often than not, people tend to write down the password to their vehicle’s Wi-Fi on a paper or in a book and keep it somewhere accessible. Sometimes, this may even be stored on a digital device, maybe with a password. While these are incredibly convenient for you to remember your password, they are all things that put your vehicle at risk. If you have your password stored inside your vehicle, it is rather easy for someone to break into it and compromise it at a later date. If your password is stored on your phone, hackers can easily get into it and compromise your system again. The best way to protect your password is to remember it and not write it down anywhere where it could be easily found. If you do need to write it down, keep it in a place that is incredibly safe, and not somewhere within your vehicle. Keep the number of people that you tell your vehicle’s password to to a minimum to prevent any kind of risks that may come your way.

It is always essential to stay protected in any instance, especially in the tech-driven age that we live in. If your vehicle does get compromised, contact your vehicle manufacturer and local enforcement authorities at once to remedy the situation and also to alert others of the potential threats that they could face.