Automotive Cyber Breaches

Not a worry for the future, but rather a current reality


With more and more technological sophistication and features showing up in today's cars, it’s surprising that there isn't more talk about the things that can potentially go wrong when someone tries to hack or breach the information systems in a car.

Here are some types of cyber breaches that are occurring along with recommendations on how to deal with the same type of attack in the future.

Sensors can be vulnerable

When it comes to defining a breach, in addition to being able to breach information systems in a car, it is also possible for people who wish to cause problems to access systems in order to destroy them. One executive at a cellular phone company had this happen with his luxury car when hackers used remote modded handheld equipment to hit his map sensor from a distance across the parking lot. Because map sensors cannot handle more than a set amount of energy at one time, the sensor was fried. As the goal was to destroy it, the breach was successful. The best way to avoid this type of attack is to park your car in a place that has increased security because you won't be able to avoid having it exposed in a common area that is not tightly patrolled or monitored.

Chrysler anyone?

After extensive testing by the US government and car manufacturers, it was announced last year that hackers could access information systems that Chrysler provided with their vehicles, allowing them to have some control over the driving experience. While this was somewhat disconcerting for drivers, the notion that someone was out there testing behaviors was at least encouraging. Chrysler have since fixed this issue though.

One thing that you can do to prepare for potential problems with information systems that run your car is to look at using free network performance monitoring or monitoring applications that offer a free trial. With network performance monitoring, you can use an internet connection while you are driving to determine specifically when you have hiccups in your network that match the tell-tale signs of a cyber breach.

The nice thing about network performance monitoring is that there are actually sites and options that allow you to use their services for free. Of course that means that if you are experiencing the type of problem that you are uncertain about, you can use free tools to diagnose it and then only need to pay if the problem remains.

Fun with radar

In addition to hacking attempts aimed at information systems, breaching the privacy of your car using radar continues to be one of the most annoying types of invasions possible. Years ago, people would use radio scanners to locally pull information on cars using the frequency that their CD player was set to in the back of the car. Today, many cars are equipped with radar that lets them see through your car and look for danger in the road ahead of you. One cottage industry that has sprung up in Southern California is to modify radar systems and use them on cars to direct sound to another car and to get data from the interior of that car. The best way to stay away from this type of problem is to get training on radar jamming systems and then install one in your car and use it. And although radar jamming is not always the best option because there are some questions about its legality in some locations, it will certainly restore a measure of your privacy.

Automotive cyber breaches are a new area of concern for some drivers. Fortunately, as long as you feel comfortable using network performance monitoring tools and other consumer solutions, you can avoid most of the threats that are out there on the road today.

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