How to secure your car from hackers in an autonomous world?

Written by janvi

cybersecurity blogger and hacking enthusiastic

November 10, 2018

Automakers are progressing in protecting vehicles from cyber attacks, but the car hacking threat is still real and it may get increasingly serious once autonomous vehicles start hitting the roads in significant numbers in the 2020’s.

In the action movie The Fate of the Furious you might have seen a large-scale vehicle hacking resulting in death and destruction. It may happen in real life too when hackers infiltrating a vehicle through an infotainment system and then wreaking havoc by taking control of the vehicle’s door, brakes, locks, engine or other driving features.

hacking a car

The good news here is hacking an autonomous car is a lot harder, because hackers have to take over all the sensors and make it a believable signal for the system. As self-driving systems have a lot of sensors working together compared to normal cars where it has a single sensor which is easy to manipulate. So the more autonomous a car is the more resilient it’ll be.

But challenges do remain for autonomous cars so here are some tips and tricks to minimize vulnerabilities to computerized thefts.

Buy an onboard diagnostic lock:

The OBD system is a car’s built-in link to the outside world, the portal through which all repairs are diagnosed. All kind of cars will definitely have a port that allows technicians to access all the relevant computers controlling your car. Making, it the easiest way to get inside your car’s brains. So lock it. Moreover, you’re on board diagnostic port is also used to access your car’s Electronic Data Recorder. So in order to avoid hackers accessing your car’s data without your permission, you must lock your OBD.

using an OBD lock

Keep in touch with car’s manufacturers:

Give your contact information to auto manufacturers so they can reach you during vehicle recalls or software updates.

As outdated software can contain some serious vulnerability’s that hackers can exploit to steal your private data or to take control of your car.  Just like you’d check your computer for software updates, make sure you get updates from your auto manufacturers.

Store keyless fob in the fridge:

Store keyless fob in a box with some tin foil lining or in a faraday bag in order to block signals to avoid hackers breaking into your car by amplifying the signal from your keyless remote & tricking the car into thinking you’re nearby. Most of the times hacker knows where your keys are; As most of the people often keep by the front door so they usually stay outside your home and holds a device near to your door to amplify keyless fob’s range.

storing keyless fob in tin foil

Switch off car’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use:

If you’re not using your car’s Bluetooth or Wi-Fi then turn them off and also hide your car’s Wi-Fi password. Because Vulnerabilities may exist within cars wireless communication functions exposing it to attackers to remotely exploit & access to the vehicle’s controller network or to data stored on the vehicle.

Scan USB drives before plugging into your dashboard:

A data-enabled USB port offers direct access to your car’s neuro system. So make sure you scan any USB drive before plugging it into your car as infected ones could contain malicious code designed to compromise your car.

scan USB


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