Tech

How Secure Are The Connected Cars?

By Victor Thomson , Jan 25, 2017 02:28 AM EST
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The connected cars might be vulnerable to hacking and cyberattacks. (Photo : DomisLive NEWS / YouTube)

Today's connected cars are technologically advanced, but drivers could be at risk if hackers and digital thieves get a hold of the data possessed by the car.

Today's Connected Cars

An entirely new market in the automotive industry has been created by the Internet of Things (IoT). Connected car services are transforming the industry and driving recurring revenue growth.

Market analysts expect this trend to continue, growing to top $42 billion by the year 2022, according to a report published on the website strategyand.pwc.com. Other analysts are even more optimistic, expecting the connected car market to reach $155 billion by 2022, according to researchandmarkets.com. In 2020, as much as 75 percent of the estimated 92 million cars globally shipped are expected to be built with internet connectivity,  according to Business Insider.

According to Venture Beat, the connected car is one of the fastest-growing market niches within the Internet of Things. The convergence of in-vehicle technologies and IoT, like collision avoidance systems, onboard GPS, remote diagnostics and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots, has opened new exciting opportunities in this industry.

Connected Cars' Security Risks

According to CSO Online, vehicles contain critical personal information such as financial information, registration and insurance details, personal contacts and even the address to the owner's home. This is leading to a great risk of entry, theft and further damage.

The nature of vehicle theft has changed with the emergence of sophisticated technology. A major risk for today's vehicle owner is a network of criminals known as "Connected Vehicle Thieves." They are connected, smarter and more targeted. According to LoJack, a company specialized in providing of vehicle theft recovery and advanced fleet management solutions, this new type of thieves can take advantage of the vehicles' technology.

An advanced form of vehicle theft is called car cloning. A stolen vehicle can get a fake vehicle identification number (VIN) created and installed by thieves. For instance, high-end luxury vehicles are stolen and sold overseas for profit by using this method of car cloning. Hackers can then use the fake VINs to create false new documents or to alter ownership forms, in order to hide a stolen car's true identity.

Another growing type of cyber crime is the use of vehicle-enabled ransom. Malware called ransomware is installed to encrypt digital data. The victim is asked to pay the criminal a ransom in order to be allowed to recover the decrypted information.

Vehicle-enabled ransomware is a predictable next step for hackers, with the emergence of vehicles being used as WiFi hotspots. Hackers can exploit this new avenue to commit digital "kidnapping" of connected cars. For instance, they could easily break into a vehicle in the near future, disable the engine and brakes, and demand bitcoin in order to restore the car to its functional state.

Other methods of cyber crime against connected cars include using scanner boxes as smart keys, theft rings targeting luxury vehicles, remote hacking and identity theft. Modern vehicles are vulnerable to a complete navigation takeover or, at least, to debilitating cyber security attacks. Thieves targeting connected vehicles can also store the data in them, including location information credit card details, personal IDs and Social Security numbers.

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