FBI: Cars 'Increasingly Vulnerable' to Hacks

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FBI: Cars 'Increasingly Vulnerable' to Hacks


The FBI and NHTSA are warning manufacturers and consumers about vehicle hacking risks.

The FBI and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are reminding drivers that road rage is no longer confined to actual roads.

Advanced vehicle technology means basically any Internet-connected car can be hacked and remotely overtaken, the agencies warned in a Thursday public service announcement . They mentioned a range of components — including third-party devices — that may put your vehicle at risk, from keyless entry, ignition control, and tire pressure monitoring to diagnostic, navigation, and entertainment systems.

The government's own security researchers last year demonstrated how easy it is to gain control over in-car functions by exploiting wireless communication flaws. The attacks were carried out over Wi-Fi, about 100 feet away from the vehicle. Connecting to a vehicle's cellular carrier, however, would allow hackers to work from anywhere in the country.

"Although vulnerabilities may not always result in an attacker being able to access all parts of the system, the safety risk to consumers could increase significantly if the access involves the ability to manipulate critical vehicle control systems," the FBI said.

Consumers don't have to be sitting ducks, though; there are precautions you can take to help minimize your car's cybersecurity risk. Perhaps most importantly, keep your software up to date.

Also, be careful when making modifications to vehicle software: unauthorized changes may impact normal operations, and introduce new vulnerabilities. Exercise discretion when connecting third-party devices, such as insurance dongles and other telematics monitoring tools, and pay attention to who has physical access to your car.

"The FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers — of vehicles, vehicle components, and aftermarket devices — to maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles," the bulletin said.

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