We have long suspected that connected cars could become potential victims to cyber attackers, but it is the first time the FBI issues an official warning about the issue.
The federal agency made a joint statement with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation on Thursday, urging Americans to take very seriously the risk of vehicular hacking.
According to the report, connected vehicles could be exposed to over-the-internet attacks. The agencies cited stances when cars were taken over remotely by criminals. They also provided tips on how to stay safe and call the FBI if you suspect you were hacked.
From the recent Public Service Announcement, we learned that the connected vehicle technologies and aftermarket devices in many modern-day cars could expose drivers and their vehicles to cyberattacks.
High-risk technologies include those that provide more safety and convenience and those that allow vehicles to save fuel or keep drivers informed on their motor vehicles’ status. But increased connectivity involves some degree of risk, the PSA reads, so “consumers and manufacturers [should] maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats.”
FBI recommends drivers to keep their apps and other in-car software up-to-date. Additionally, car owners should pay attention to car recalls that require non-automated security patches to the vehicles’ software.
Furthermore, drivers should not plug-in insecure devices or perform unauthorized changes to the cars’ systems. This is how hackers can get easy access to any automated vehicle as it already happened last year.
In July, 2015, two cybersecurity experts hacked a connected Jeep, so its manufacturer had to recall 1.4 million units and send software updates via mail to all the drivers that could be affected by a non-simulated attack.
In August, 2015, a University of California team found that by simply plugging-in an insurance dongle to a connected Corvette could grant hackers control over the vehicle’s windshield wipers and brakes.
FBI and DOT also warns against leaving your vehicle unsecured while you are away. The agencies noted that you should not allow strangers to have access to your car just like you do not let your iPhone or personal computer unlocked when you are not around in a public place.
Chris Valasek from the team that hacked the Jeep said that the FBI’s PSA was ‘super delayed’ since connected vehicles have been around for some years now.
“But it’s good advice…people take the FBI seriously,”
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