The rise of automotive hacking is in full force, with many advanced vehicles discovering wireless and other cyber vulnerabilities. This area is becoming a new frontier for car hackers to exploit and learn from.
Automotive hacking has been difficult over the past decades because the cars were designed to be protected from the outside by security measures such as steering wheel locks, door locks, immobilisers, and anti-tampering software. These features were implemented to protect the car from thieves and prevent car owners from gaining unauthorised access to the car’s computer systems. Only a few individuals were able to study and learn about these safeguards, as it was hard to have an actual vehicle to experiment with.
What is Automotive Hacking?
Automotive hacking is gaining unauthorised access to a vehicle’s computer systems. Certain individuals have gained access to vehicles they had no right to get into. This can include someone walking up and unlocking a car door and a newer, more sophisticated method of gaining access by connecting wirelessly through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The most common issue associated with this type of access is that it destroys the car’s security measures to use it. It can also include a new way to prevent normal vehicle functions from working, such as a car alarm, oil change reminder, or even an air conditioning or heating system.
Ways Hackers Can Gain Access to Your Vehicle
By remotely accessing the car’s computer system, a hacker can control the throttle, breaking, and other driving functions. This forces the car to accelerate rapidly or turn off completely.
Extended Key Fob Range
By accessing the vehicle’s key fob, a hacker can make it, so the car opens on its own or even closes on its own. Also, if the car is left running with the key fob outside of it, a hacker can force the ignition to shut off.
If your car is connected to the internet, hackers may be able to access whatever gadgets you’ve synced with it. Your passwords, driving records, bank data, and credit card details are just some information that could be compromised in a cyber attack. Connected automobile apps are another potential entry point for hackers looking to steal sensitive information. Some situations have occurred when rental car agencies have gained unauthorised access to clients’ private information. This kind of leak can quickly escalate into a serious vulnerability.
Hacking Your USB Port
There is a known risk of cyber attacks on vehicles, particularly through USB data ports and other vehicle connections. It has been proved in numerous investigations that the infotainment system and other inputs found in today’s vehicles, particularly those with USB connections, can be exploited by hackers. Hackers typically gain access to a car’s system through a USB device by employing social engineering techniques.
Hackers, once inside, can plant malware and use the car and its associated resources to their advantage. This includes hacking the driver’s phone to obtain sensitive information, such as bank login pins, texts, images, etc.
If hackers can gain access to your car using its USB connections, they can tamper with the vehicle’s code, making driving unpleasant or unsafe. Thus, a USB anti-data hacking charging adaptor is recommended over a regular data cable.
The secure telematics system is a new method to monitor and collect car information. This system is commonly installed in fleet cars, such as those purchased by a taxi or shuttle service. The telematics system allows the service to track the car’s location and monitor certain information, such as fuel levels, oil changes, oil pressure, tire pressure, and other vehicle metrics. Hackers can easily manipulate this system to access private data stored on the car’s internal computer.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Such Attacks?
Keep Your Systems Up to Date
It’s important to keep your vehicle’s software up to date to access the latest bug fixes. These critical updates contain security patches for known vulnerabilities in the car’s systems. Because vulnerabilities arise due to discoveries and updates, it is best to keep a close watch on cyber security updates from your car manufacturer.
Limit the number of people who have access to your vehicle’s information by setting up password-protected accounts. This will help prevent unauthorised login attempts and limit access only to those with authorised accounts.
Block Unauthorised Communications
Sending malicious code and data packets to a vehicle is often the first step in a cyber attack. A built-in firewall that prevents hackers from accessing the car’s internal network is recommended. An efficient firewall will restrict communication with the car to authorized parties, both V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2X (vehicle-to-everything).
Be wary of third-party software
Having third-party software and applications installed on your vehicle can open it up to potential harm. When customising your vehicle, only use software authorised by the automaker.
The automotive hacking community is growing exponentially, as many vehicles are equipped with wireless and other cyber vulnerabilities. This is a new frontier for car hackers to exploit and learn from.
The future of most modern vehicles is destined to be fully controlled by computer software and the internet. This will allow for deploying advanced Driving Assistance systems, Connected Media platforms and other applications, with connectivity and in-car-infotainment systems.
Having the right kind of cyber security is extremely important in the automotive industry. While technological advances may help to improve driver safety, there is also a possibility of it making cars vulnerable. As car systems become more interconnected, it becomes easier for hackers to access them.
As a result, car manufacturers should focus on developing secure software and implementing a defence-in-depth strategy encompassing robust cyber security technologies that excel at securing all these elements of the driving experience.
If you take proper precautions, you can protect yourself from being a cyber attack victim. Make sure you regularly update your vehicle’s software and install security patches. Also, ensure that the automaker has approved any custom software installed on your vehicle. Lastly, limit the number of people who have access to your car’s software by setting up password-protected accounts.