As I often tell you, things are not as bad as you think – they are worse. Many newer cars use key fobs that are merely clicked in the hand of the holder to electronically start cars rather than the old-style metal key inserted into the car’s ignition system. Hackers have now been able to decipher the code systems used in the remote entry systems of ten cars manufactured by eight different manufacturers leading to car thefts throughout the country. Car manufacturers are still failing to admit and recognize the problem which is the first step in correcting the problem. But wait, it gets worse. Today’s cars are largely computers on wheels using computer and blue tooth technology for many purposes. Unfortunately, just as remote hackers can access your computer and your smartphone’s blue tooth technology so can they access your car’s computer system. In a recent test, two researchers were able to hack into the computers of a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape SUV and go so far as to control the brakes and move the steering wheel. This is the stuff of scary science fiction, but it is today’s science fact.
Unfortunately, I do not have much advise other than to ask your car manufacturer what it is doing to counteract such hacking. Many automobile computer systems, such as the advanced Ford Sync system utilize Bluetooth technology. There are a number of steps that you can take to protect the security of your Bluetooth devices through enhanced authentication, encryption and heightening your security settings. Here is a link to a memorandum from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security with some more detailed information.