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Your Car Can Be Hacked: 5 Tips For Vehicle Cybersecurity

You might have read that there was another mass hacking attack on computers in Europe- You need vehicle tips for this too! The attackers are once again using ransomware: viruses that encrypt everything on an infected computer and demand payment to unlock your data. If you’ve bought a new vehicle in the last ten years then you’ll probably also know that modern cars are full of computers- they can have as many as 100 individual computerised components.


See a problem here?


Car hacking isn’t some sci-fi scenario: it’s happening right now. In 2015 Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million Jeeps after security researchers found a way to hijack them while they were driving, gaining complete control of the car’s steering and brakes. Combined that with the idea behind ransomware, and you could soon find that when you go to start up the car in the morning the dashboard tells you that your car won’t start unless you pay $300.


So what can you do about car hacking?


  1. Keep it Old School


Nobody can hack your car’s computer if your car doesn’t have a computer. Finding and restoring a classic car doesn’t just protect you against the 21st century, you also get to look cool as hell. We can help you with body work and auto body painting in Bonnyville and Cold Lake.


  1. Close Those Ports


Information flows in and out of your car through ‘ports’ in its software and hardware, and the security on these ports is often seriously sub-standard. Your satellite radio, on-board wi-fi and a whole host of diagnostic and reporting software you won’t even realise is there, all forms your ‘attack surface’. Reducing this surface is hard- don’t just go fooling around with your dashboard computer’s settings thinking that you’ll hack your way into bullet-proof cybersecurity. Look online for your vehicle’s make, model and year and terms like ‘hacking’ or ‘cyber security’ or hit up owner’s forums and put the question out there. You may find that faults have been reported or somebody has figured out a fix.


  1. Lock Down Your OBD


Every recent car has a on-board diagnostic system, or OBD- a small plug under the steering column or glove box that engineers can access to get an instant report on what’s wrong with a vehicle. We love these things- they take a bunch of the guesswork out of repairs, but if we can plug in and access all of your car’s systems then so can anybody. A simple key lock can make it so hard to get at the OBD that most thieves will ignore it.


  1. Just Turn a Key


Keyless access and keyless ignition will probably make you feel pretty cool, but it’s a major security risk. All somebody has to do is scan your key fob and they’ve got access to your vehicle for life. Take the batteries out of your key fob, pretend it’s 1994 and just turn the key.


  1. Get A Steering Wheel Lock


When was the last time you saw one of these? Take a quick glance through the windows in a parking lot and you’re unlikely to see one, but with the threat of car hacking on the rise they’re likely to make a comeback. Even if a thief can hack your key fob to open the door and get into your OBD to digitally start the car, they still have to get through several inches of solid steel before they can actually drive away. This should be enough of a deterrant to keep thieves out of your vehicle.


Cybersecurity for vehicles is an evolving field, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it in the future. Pretty soon you could be going to mechanics for security checks as much as oil changes. Start thinking about cybersecurity for your vehicle now and you’ll be ahead of the curve.