7 Tips to Prevent Car Hacking

7 Tips to Prevent Car Hacking

Imagine driving your car on a highway. Suddenly, your car's air conditioner turns on, and the radio starts to play hip-hop music. Before you have the chance to think, your car's engine suddenly goes dead. Yes, dead -- like you can't turn it on in the middle of the highway.

If you think this story isn't true, then you might be surprised that this happened for real. In this case, the 'victimized' car was a Jeep Cherokee.

Car hacking is real. Car horn dysfunctions, tire pressure hacking, and disabled engine/brakes are just some of the most common car hacks done today. And if you think it won't happen to you, then you're in for a surprise. The modern vehicle has up to 100 different microcomputers/microprocessors linked by means of electronic communication. What makes our cars vulnerable to these attacks is not really because of high-tech gadgets, per se, but because of our need to be connected to them at all times. That's what hackers exploit. And they're getting smarter and smarter as each day passes. Here's how to prevent them from making your car their next 'hacked' victim:

1. Use a steering wheel lock

Steering wheel lock ©images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Yes, that heavy, old-school wheel lock may take up a lot of space in your trunk, but it's a great deterrent for car thieves who hack your car. Steering wheel locks can easily be seen, and car thieves know it takes up a lot of time to open it -- if they can. And if they can't, then they might as well look for a car without a lock. By the way, if you don't know what's the best one to use for your car, we highly recommend these steering wheel locks.

2. Avoid using your remote keyless system when you lock the doors

Remote keyless system for car ©images.wisegeek.com

This might be a bit confusing, since we often rave about this remote keyless feature, but it turns out that it's one of the easiest ways car hackers get inside a car. How? They just scan your push-button locking system, plain and simple. Once it does, then they can get inside your vehicle and steal your things. So it seems that the best way to lock your car is going the old-fashioned way: via your car key.

3. Wrap or hide your keyless fob

keyless fob for car ©www.commerciallocksmithssanantonio.com
That keyless fob that will help open your car also has the potential to help thieves steal your car. We recommend wrapping your keyless fob in aluminum foil or placing them in the refrigerator when going to bed. We know this sounds strange, but hackers can actually amplify your key fob and fool your car into thinking that the fob is close by. If your car has a push-button feature, then it fools the security system and thinks that the immobilizer is close by. Once it does, then you might as well just give your car away.

4. Don't plug random USBs into your dashboard

USB plugged into car center console ©cdn.spectrumbrands.com

Data-enabled USB ports that are used to update software is like the nervous system of the body. Once you introduce a spark to a neuron, it then spreads out fast. USBs, particularly the ones sent via snail mail may be the one to 'introduce' a virus to your car's system. And you think USBs don't get mailed today? Fiat Chrysler did just that. It mailed out USB sticks to customers to patch a vulnerability in its system. This is a major security nightmare. The Jeep Cherokee's car hack we shared actually used a USB-installed "patch" that was sent through post mail.

5. Go to reputable repair shops and car dealers

Mechanic fixing car in repair shop ©ichoose.ph

It's always possible for shady individuals to manipulate your car's computer system to make it appear that repairs aren't needed. We know car maintenance can be financially draining at times, but don't skimp on your budget if security is a top priority in your list.

6. Buy a General Motors product

Car lot with General Motors' cars ©media.boingboing.net

GM takes security very seriously. So much so that it rewards "white hat" hackers when they point out their product's vulnerabilities- called the Bug Bounty Program. Definitely something to consider if you've been thinking of buying a Chevrolet or Cadillac car.

7. Buy a car with the latest Apple CarPlay/Android Audio system

Android audio system for cars © images.apple.com

Many security experts say that these two are more hack-proof than those automotive entertainment systems that car manufacturers offer. So if your car has telematics, then it would be safer if you use your iPhone or Android phone than your vehicle's cellular systems.

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