How easy is it to hack your car?

Almost everything that can be connected to via a network can be also hacked. But what about cars? Can they be hacked? If so, how much time do criminals have to spend on it?

In fact, hackers are able to shut off your engine while you’re driving, control your steering or brakes, and even open and close your doors and boot. As a result, driving a hacked car can be pretty dangerous.

Finding a hole in your car's software is all it takes for someone to compromise the system. It isn't always that difficult for hackers to find a means to get into your car, even though it could take some time. A committed hacker can enter a reasonably sophisticated system with enough time. According to the research of Upstream — a car cybersecurity organization — by 2025, more than 86% of cars will be connected to the global network. ‘Connected’ refers to the sharing of data among servers, applications, phones, etc. Because of this connectivity, there are several ways that automobiles can be compromised.

What damage can hackers do if they hack your car?

There are multiple ways criminals can hack your car. First of all, the brake pedal and engine are vulnerable. Although your brake pedal is within your control, the onboard computer's microprocessors are what actually cause your brakes to function. Your brakes can be disabled and the engine can even be stopped by hackers who get access to your onboard computer.

Hackers also could interfere with the movement of the car using wipers, heaters, conditioners, or radio. Each of these options could be controlled remotely and used to distract the driver. Although windshield cleaning fluid is helpful, it’s more of a burden when it’s released repeatedly or abruptly. If that’s the case, it might endanger your visibility. Your windshield wipers and this system are both hackable. The same can be said for heating or conditioner systems. They are useful until they can be used to harm you.

Another way of hacking can be performed by unscrupulous repair shops. The majority of initial diagnosis is done by onboard vehicle diagnostics equipment. However, dishonest businesses may trick your diagnostics system into suggesting that you need repairs that aren't actually necessary. This is an easy way for them to earn money. Thus, it’s important to use services that are reliable.

Hackers can also use a car’s interconnected system to impact one’s car safety and its correct operation. This could, for example, lead to forced acceleration. When a car is driven or reaches a given speed, power locks frequently contain functions like automatic locking. Such integrated systems in cars make them susceptible to issues like power locks being overridden to compel an acceleration.

It’s also possible to extend the key fob range to gain physical access to the car. Modern wireless key fobs open automobile doors when the owner is nearby. Thieves who aren’t focused on harming the car owner, but rather looking to steal the car can also exploit the functionality of the key fob and increase its range using radio repeaters. It allows one to unlock the car from up to 30 feet away.

Moreover, if hackers break into your car’s entire system, they could gain your private information, especially if the car is equipped with a GPS telematics system. This data could be misused to invade your privacy and possibly to learn where you live, work, or send your children to school. The serious threat is presented by the connection between your car and your smartphone. Some advanced hackers might be more interested in your connected mobile phone than the automobile’s system. Your information is in danger if they manage to get access to the system in your car and locate the mobile device that is connected to it. The connected smartphone is a direct source of your bank credentials, passwords, and other sensitive data.

Will your car be hacked?

Nowadays, almost every car is susceptible to being hacked. But, talking about chances that you will be impacted by car hacking, it is unlikely you'll experience any issues with hacking at this stage. In any case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Due to the lack of financial benefit, most hackers prefer not to enter this sphere, with the exception of car thieves who use elements of hacking to neutralize the car’s alarm and relevant security systems.

Car hackers frequently do this for amusement or malicious intent. Very few hackers in the real world have targeted automobiles. Instead, the majority of vehicle hacks are either theoretical or carried out by research teams looking to find weaknesses in the car’s protection. Most car hacks are difficult for average hackers to execute since they typically call for a great deal of knowledge, equipment, and sometimes even physical access to the vehicle itself. However, vehicle makers are still working to develop defenses to shield their products from cyber harm. All due to the potential possibility of hacking attempts. More and more vehicles become connection-available, smart, and independent, so it may lead to an increase in car hacks in the future.

How can you protect your car?

Currently, hackers aren't really interested in your car. However, the situation may change. Hackers may become more interested in and adept at hacking cars as they become aware of their ability to kidnap automobile owners, steal their data, and carry out nefarious deeds like larceny. There are some easy steps that should be done by every car owner to protect their privacy and security.

First of all, do not program your home address into your GPS system. While having a GPS may be handy, car thieves and hackers can use it to locate your home location.

Then, it’s necessary to limit wireless systems connected to your vehicle. You are most in danger from such technologies, as wireless or remote systems are frequently operated online and are more susceptible to hackers than many other systems.

And the last, but not the least piece of advice, use reputable shops, as anyone who gets physical access to your car and is computer savvy can wreak havoc on it. Therefore, when you leave your automobile in a shop, whether it’s for minutes, hours, or days, you run the risk of someone hacking it to make it seem as though you need repairs that aren't actually required.