News reports about hackers gaining entry or control of electronic systems installed in modern cars date back to the year 2008. Back then, a series of email chains told dubious stories about thieves grabbing signals transmitted by keyless entry systems. Although those emails were later debunked as urban legends, Chinese security researchers in 2016 explained how a relay attack could be used to steal unencrypted data from key fobs made with cheap electronic components.
More recently, reports about hackers being able to get remote control of certain Chrysler and Tesla models prompted recalls and emergency software updates. With more connectivity being installed in new vehicles, serious concerns about car hacking are being discussed. At a time when researchers are discovering vulnerabilities not just in operating systems but also in CPUs, information security as it applies to vehicles has become crucial. Here are some recommendations to keep hackers away from your car.
Prevent Physical Access
Car thieves have not taken as much advantage of remote keyless entry systems as they could have, and some automakers are not waiting around for this to happen. Locking your car doors from the inside before closing them is the easiest method to avoid unencrypted entry codes from being intercepted. Other options include deactivating the key fob mechanism, choosing vehicles that use biometrics such as fingerprint scanners, or sticking with traditional entry methods that require keys.
Install Components That Have Been Tested and Certified
The cars that are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks have been equipped with third-party or aftermarket infotainment systems. The issue with accessories that are not part of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) platform is that they may feature untested and unsigned apps, drivers, and firmware that makes vehicles more vulnerable. As of 2018, drivers are advised to only install head units powered by operating systems certified by the Open Automotive Alliance, which include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Ford SYNC. Doing otherwise could put your car at risk.
Update Your Systems
If your car is equipped with telematics and other features that require wireless internet connectivity, pay attention to upgrades, patches and recalls issued by automakers and OEM providers. You should also stay away from threat vectors such as USB drives sent via mail since this presents the potential of physical man-in-the-middle intercept attacks.
If you do not feel comfortable with modern telematics, infotainment, and connectivity systems in your car, you can always choose to stay with a traditional model that does not give hackers an option to apply their malicious skills. You may still want to check with your Vista auto insurance agent about modern features such as anti-theft, driver assist, and electronic anti-lock brakes that are not vulnerable to cyber-attacks and may reduce your policy premiums when securely installed.
Contact a trusted agent at American Tri-Star to learn what type of coverage you need for your vehicle. We are also a leading provider of motorcycle, RV, homeowners, and commercial insurance in Vista. Call 760-758-1600 today for a complimentary quote.