Connected Cars: Cyber Attacks Have Risen By 700%

The number of cyber attacks being made on connected cars has risen exponentially. It’s raised fears that drivers and their personal data are being compromised…

Connected Cars And Cyber Attacks

The number of cyber attacks being made against connected cars rose by 700% between 2010 and 2019, according to new research. Just shy of 70% of all new registered vehicles in the UK are ‘connected’. This means they transmit information to their manufacturers via the Internet. It’s thought that, by 2026, all new cars will be connected by default. But the rise in attacks has prompted industry experts to warn drivers to delete personal data before parting with their vehicles. Research conducted by Upstream, a security company, revealed that there were 155 data-breach incidents in 2019 alone; a growth of 99% over the previous year.

An incident in October 2019 involved users of a Mercedes driver app being able to access other people’s accounts and information. The app allows drivers to locate, and even unlock, Mercedes vehicles; revealing the disturbing possibilities of cyber attacks. An increasing amount of car thieves are also participating in ‘relay crime’, which allows them to access cars quickly and quietly; sometimes in as little as 30 seconds. In 2019 a Honda database flaw allowed anyone to see which of its systems had security vulnerabilities, risking 134 million rows of employee data. In the same year, Toyota also suffered database breaches. Offenders accessed servers that held information related to as many as 3.1 million customers.

‘Don’t Be Too Trusting’ 

Because of the rise in cyber attacks, experts have been frank when it comes to advising drivers. Jonathon O’Mara, a cybersecurity expert working for CompareMyVPN, has suggested that drivers simply shouldn’t trust their vehicles with much personal information. He said, “even if basic privacy measures were put in place, we feel anonymised data can be easily matched with other elements to break down any attempts to promote user privacy”. He continued, “in addition, the car companies themselves can now collect huge swathes of rich personal data – mainly location-based and habitual movements. However, this also covers connected device activity such as calls made, messages and phone numbers, which for privacy-concerned individuals is quite alarming”.

In other words, our cars are now effectively computers; and they can be exploited in the same way. Our cars are intimately connected with our everyday lives, routines and rituals. Even more so then computers, they can reveal a staggering amount about a person. It’s therefore imperative that drivers, for the sake of their safety and privacy, become increasingly vigilant.

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