We know that the internet comes with risks. We keep our PCs protected with antivirus software and we know to ignore those emails offering us huge gains for just sharing our banking details.
But did you know that your car is also a vulnerable target for cybercriminals? They can exploit the car’s computer systems to steal your personal information, or even take control of the car itself. When you have a connected car, cybersecurity needs to be taken just as seriously as you do with online activities in your home.
The good news is that car manufacturers are becoming more aware of the need for cybersecurity, and are starting to put measures in place to protect their vehicles. However, you still have a responsibility to ensure that your car is protected from cyber threats.
Our Top Tips For Keeping Your Car Safe from Cyber Attacks
1. Make sure your car has the latest software updates.
Car manufacturers are constantly issuing updates to their car’s computer systems in order to fix vulnerabilities and improve security. While it can be tempting to wait until your car goes in for its annual service, if you want your car to have the highest level of protection then it’s essential that updates are installed as soon as they become available.
2. Protect your car with a good antivirus program.
Just like your PC, you need to protect your car’s computer systems with a good antivirus program. Of course, you may not have a choice in the matter if your car’s software is only available from the manufacturer itself. In this case, it’s essential that you get an antivirus program with regular automatic updates to ensure that you have access to the latest protection.
3. Keep personal details secure on your smartphone.
When you connect your phone with your car, make sure that any personal information stored on it remains private. Make sure that no apps have permission to track your location or access your address book without permission and avoid making payments or signing up for services through your car’s infotainment system.
4. Use strong passwords.
Make sure your car’s passwords are strong and unique. Don’t use the same password for your car as you do for your online banking, for example.
It’s recommended that passwords should be at least twelve characters long and include a mixture of upper and lower case letters along with numbers and special characters. Don’t make the mistake of using easily guessed words like ‘password’ or ‘car’ or writing down your password to help you remember it!
5. Beware of phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are when criminals try to get you to reveal your personal information by masquerading as a legitimate organisation such as your car manufacturer. They may send you an email that looks like it’s from your car company, asking you to update your account details or install a new software update.
Never respond to emails requesting personal information unless you are absolutely certain that they are genuine. Instead, go directly to the website of the organisation in question and log in that way. If you’re not sure, contact customer support for help.
4. Secure your Wi-Fi connection.
If you have a Wi-Fi hotspot in your car, make sure it’s also been secured with a strong password and encryption enabled. Otherwise, anyone nearby could connect to the internet through your car by using that wireless access point. That then means that downloading malicious software or accessing your personal data is just a click away for the cyber-criminal.
5. Back up your data.
In the event that your car’s computer systems are compromised, it’s a good idea to have a backup of your important data. This way, you can restore your car to its previous state without losing any vital information.
If you’re not sure how to do this, check your car’s manual or request help from your local service centre.
6. Use a tracking device.
If your car is stolen, a tracking device can help you track it down. This not only helps you get your car back quickly but can also give the police valuable information on who might have stolen it.
If you’re buying a used car, make sure that you check whether or not it is equipped with any kind of tracking device and if so, how it can be accessed. You need to ensure that previous owners are not able to track your new car.
7. Be vigilant.
The best way to protect your car from cyber attacks is to be vigilant and aware of the risks. Make sure that your car is protected by ensuring that you keep up to date with technology and any new cyber threats.
Car manufacturers are improving security, not just for cybercriminals, but also to keep us safe from terrorist attacks. Intelligence agencies have alerted vehicle manufacturers to the possibility of terrorists using cars as weapons, so future cars may have more robust security against hacking and tampering with important systems.
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