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Internet-Connected Cars: Scammers' Next Target

posted Apr 11, 2016, 11:01 AM by Resty Manapat

Is your car connected? Many cars can now connect to the Internet, enabling drivers to play music, use GPS, and access roadside assistance without their phone. Unfortunately, Internet connection comes with a potential drawback. It opens up your car to the risk of hacking, warns a new Federal Bureau of Investigation alert. 

How the Scam Works:

You use the dashboard of your connected car to get GPS directions, connect through apps or stream music. But one recent study found that scammers can take advantage of security holes in the Wi-Fi connection to gain access to the car's computer. Once they get in, hackers can steal data or even take control of your vehicle. 

Connected car hacking is more of a possibility than an existing issue. But as more people purchase connected cars, con artists are bound to find ways to use them for scams. This just happened with smartphones a few years ago, so the FBI wants consumers to be aware of the potential problem and to treat connected cars like other computer devices. 

Tips to Keep Your Connected Car Secure: 

  • Treat your car like a computer. Your connected car is a computer, so use the same common sense you would for keeping your laptop safe. Be especially cautious when allowing third-party devices to access your car's computer for reasons other than vehicle diagnostics and maintenance.
  • Respect recalls. If you receive a recall notice for an issue related to your car's computer system, treat it as seriously as you would a safety recall and get it taken care of right away. The notification will tell you how to get the problem fixed. Cyber recalls are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and you can check for all recalls at
  • Keep your vehicle's software up-to-date. Manufacturers will do their best to patch security holes. System updates are annoying but vital for protecting your device. Always make sure you have the latest updates, "bug fixes," and security patches, but only download those officially provided by the manufacturer.
  • Don't make changes to vehicle software. Making unauthorized changes to the vehicle's software may introduce new vulnerabilities that could be exploited by scammers.
  • Lock your car. Just as you password-protect your smartphone and laptop, be sure to lock your car and know who has access to it.
  • If you suspect your connected car has been hacked... Contact the vehicle manufacturer or dealer. Provide them with a description of the problem so that they can work with you to resolve any potential cybersecurity concerns. 


Source: Better Business Bureaus