Juliet McGuire

Your car can be hacked!

Ok maybe not your specific car, but many cars are now vulnerable to hacking. Just like your bank account or your Facebook account can be hacked, so too can your car be.

It is quite a scary thought, isn’t it? A Facebook hack usually results in some idiot sending weird or inappropriate messages to your contact list, but if your car gets hacked, well you could die! Ok that is a tad dramatic, but not entirely untrue. Especially when you consider that hackers could access your car’s internal network and send ‘denial of service’ signals which can shut down air bags, anti-lock brakes, and even door locks. Frightening, right?

As car security systems advanced so do the tactics taken by criminals to access and/or steal your car. There are so many ways to steal a car, but do you know all of the ways? A study in the UK revealed that less than 1% (0.6) of drivers are aware of the most common hacking flaws their car might face. It might be UK-based, but that doesn’t mean South Africa is spared.

Here are 7 car hacks you need to know about:

1.Relay hack keyless entry

Normally, your remote car key signal won’t reach from inside your house to a car outside. But using a ’relay box‘, criminals are able to boost the signal from your keys when they’re away from the vehicle and spoof the exact signal – causing your car to unlock and allowing the thief access.

How to stay safe: see if you can disable your key signal while you’re parked. Keep your key away from the front door. Consider keeping it in secure container – ask your manufacturer, dealer or garage for advice.

2. Keyless jamming

Criminals can also use tools to prevent your car key’s locking signal from reaching your car. This means that your car remains unlocked when you move away from it, and the thieves are able to access your unsecure vehicle.

How to stay safe: check your door manually. Use a steering lock. Never leave valuables in the car. Avoid loading bought items into your vehicle in a retail car park and then returning to the store or another outlet.

Here is a video of me being remote jammed a few years back.

3. Tyre pressure monitoring systems

Hackers are able to interact with sensors inside a vehicle’s tyres to track the vehicle and display false tyre pressure readings. The practical application of this type of hack is less obvious.

How to stay safe: double check your tyre pressures on a regular basis. Ask the car manufacturer for guidance.

4. App flaw local remote control

Certain telematics companies provide vehicle security and tracking for a number of vehicles. While you might not directly use the features from these apps, many cars may possess them without your knowledge as many vehicle tracking apps integrate with their technology.

A misconfigured or deliberately altered server allows hackers to locate, unlock and even potentially start the engine of nearby cars.

How to stay safe: consult with your car manufacturer for guidance and support.

5. Controller area network (CAN) disabled safety features

Using vulnerabilities in a car’s wi-fi or phone connections, hackers can access the internal car network and send ‘denial of service’ signals which can shut down air bags, anti-lock brakes, and even door locks.

How to stay safe: ask the vehicle manufacturer for advice. Change your passwords regularly.

6. Onboard diagnostics hack

Cars possess a feature called an “on-board diagnostic port” that allows garages to access the internal data of a vehicle to perform tasks such as checking service light faults and programming new keys for their owners.

However, kits which can use this port to program new keys can cost as little as £50 (R930), and hackers can use these to create new keys to access vehicles.

How to stay safe: always use a trusted, reputable garage and double-up on security with a steering lock or other physical device.

7. Phone Phishing

Wi-fi access to your car is made all the easier if you fall prey to a standard phishing scheme in advance.

Hackers will send emails with links to malicious websites or apps that then take your details or even take control of any applications you might have on your phone that enable you to interact with your vehicle.

How to stay safe: treat all emails from unknown senders with caution and, if in doubt, do not open or click on any links.

A SIDE NOTE: You best check that your car insurer covers you for such incidences.

Source: Money Supermarket

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