According to Interpol, vehicle crimes involve everything from burglary to unlawful vending of automotive spare parts. Car hacking comes under the broader head of vehicle crimes. Car hackers take advantage of weaknesses in the car’s hardware, software programme or computer networks like the communication systems.

Furthermore, with higher connectivity comes a bigger hazard of cyber-attacks. This is because, newer model cars have many provisions, better infotainment systems and supplementary safety features that make driving easier and more enjoyable. With each passing day, cars have started to look more and more like a supercomputer. Hence they are at a greater risk of viruses, bugs, phishing and hacking like any other computer.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Grand Cherokee

Attackers can use state of the art techniques to hack into a car’s electrical systems. Indeed, the researchers, Miller and Valasek established this by hacking a car over the internet. They demonstrated this on a Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep Cherokee.

Even without any physical contact with the car, the duo attained access to the Cherokee’s steering, brakes, transmission, digital display and even its radio. Thus, this verifies that car hackers can operate a vehicle by remotely manipulating its internet-connected systems.

Therefore, just like any other computer connected to the web newer models cars, in particular, are potentially susceptible to this kind of cybersecurity threats.

10 Ways Your Car Could Be Hacked

Car hacking, for now, exists mostly as a quandary only in a theoretical sense. But with large scale modernisation and technological application in today’s cars, this could conceivably change soon.

  1. Keyless Remote

    Secure cars with keyless entry
    Secure cars with keyless entry

    Thieves and hackers can easily break into your car using the signal from your car’s keyless remote. By intensifying the signal from the key fob through a radio repeater, hackers can unlock your car. To prevent this from taking place, you can leave your fob in the refrigerator or microwave. Again make sure you don’t keep your keyless remote lying around near the front door to deter car burglary.

  2. Phishing Messages

    Through it’s WiFi system hackers can gain access to your car. They can send you malevolent links in your phone via email, connecting to the vehicle’s WiFi.  Likewise, a couple of researchers in Norway confirmed that car hackers can indeed do this. They demonstrated this using a Tesla Model S car. All the more reason not to throw caution in the wind.

    Tesla Model S
    Tesla Model S
  3. OBD II Dongles

    Another way a hacker can gain access to your car is through the On-Board Diagnostics II dongle. Insurance companies and the likes of it use this dongle to keep track of how you drive. Therefore, they place OBD II near the steering of the car. However, a hacker can infiltrate the car’s systems by getting to the dongle through the car’s Bluetooth. Besides, they can manipulate the vehicle to the extent of halting a running car’s engine.

  4. GPS Coordinates

    GPS Navigation System
    GPS Navigation System

    Similarly, using a WiFi hotspot malicious people can get details of the car like its make and model. Furthermore, it also becomes possible for them to get their hands into the IP address of the car’s computer system. Along with this, they can also get the car’s location through its GPS. Even though this might be a long shot, hackers might even manipulate the car’s GPS destination.

  5. Radio

    Attackers can gain access to the car’s radio as well. Afterwards, you would not be able to turn up or down the stereo. Neither would you be unable to switch on or off your car radio. Hackers might do this to distract the driver while trying to implement a bigger malicious scheme.

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  6. Air Conditioning

    How a Car AC work? Automotive Air Conditioning Explained
    Air Conditioning

    Another way an attacker can unnerve the driver is by taking control of the vehicle’s ventilation, heater or even the seat warmers. This is sure to cause discomfort to the passengers of the car if not more.

  7. Throttle

    Hackers can play with the car’s acceleration through the power locking system. Similarly, another way hackers can generate inadvertent acceleration is by conveying messages to a car’s CAN bus. This can indeed cause motor accidents and can possibly be life-threatening as well.

  8. Windshield Wipers

    Car Wipers
    Car Wipers

    Hackers can intimidate the occupants of a car by suddenly activating the windshield wipers. The unexpected spraying of washer fluids and unintended movement of wipers on the windscreen can undoubtedly be quite frightening. Likewise, this would also compromise the motorist’s ability to see the road property.

  9. Brake

    Drive safely inside tunnels
    Applying brakes

    It would also be a scary prospect for a motorist to have their car come to a stop without engaging the brake pedal. Along with this, hackers can also potentially deactivate a car’s brakes or take over it’s steering while it is moving. However, on a less chilling note, the latter was only observed when vehicles where driven at lower speeds.

  10. Vehicle Diagnostics and much more

    Connected Car Diagnostics in Tata Nexon
    Car Diagnostics

    Correspondingly, hackers can mess with the tyre pressure monitors and diagnostics system of the car. In addition, they can control the car’s digital display. Once they get access, with little effort they can even download sensitive material like driving data and private information of the user.

Unlike other vehicle threats, car hacking is not something you need to stay up all night worrying about.

  • Even though it is possible to hack your car in the paper, the instances of car hacking reported from around the world are few in number.
  • Because of this, it is safe to say that your automobile is not in any immediate danger of being hacked. Well, at least for the time being.
  • Besides auto manufacturers are keeping the threat of hacking in mind and are continually updating the software in their cars.
  • They are also making bigger investments in R&D. Carmakers are also constantly upgrading the safety features to prevent even the isolated chance of a cyber-attack.
  • However, as a car owner, just to be on the safe side you can take a couple of steps to deter hacking.

First of all, you can switch off the car’s WiFi and Bluetooth between uses. Additionally, you can invest in a faraday bag for the safekeeping of your vehicle’s keyfob. And finally, you can make sure that any USB devices you plug into the car are free from malware.

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