Are Connected Vehicles Secure?

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Brandon Moore
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 3 min read
Vehicle technology
has progressed rapidly over the years, allowing for advanced safety features and emissions controls. Now you can even access the internet from your car, or stream movies and music from apps. Connected cars, or vehicles equipped with
telematics software
, are also gaining popularity among consumers.
Connected cars are also the subject of some controversy, as reported by
The Drive
. As drivers demand the right to access this information, automakers are hesitant to give it to them. Can connected cars be trusted with sensitive data?
What is the price for having vehicles collect more data than ever?

What are some safety concerns associated with connected cars?

Since connected cars are always online, the primary concern with their technology is cybersecurity risks. Certain automotive parts manufacturers and drivers alike are eager to add a stipulation to national repair laws. This would give independent and chain mechanics access to sensitive telematics information in order to repair these systems.
However, automakers argue that giving strangers access to this data opens up a world of risks. An unsavory person might be able to hack these databases and get access to customers' personal information. Some automakers also believe hackers might hijack the vehicle's computer, which could lead to
car accidents
Hackers could take control of the car's windshield wipers, radio, or other distracting components. In extreme cases, they might be able to disable brakes or control the steering wheel.
Data from a driver's connected apps through smartphone integration might be used for unsolicited marketing. GPS history can also be tampered with, revealing sensitive information about the driver's whereabouts. The proposed referendum to the Massachusetts right-to-repair law would also conflict with other laws already in place. According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, certain computer-operated safety features have to be controlled by the actual driver.
Additionally, these controls aren't designed to be accessed by mechanics who aren't associated with the make's dealership. Retuning them to do so might result in extensive recalls, according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

Can we trust automakers with our data?

Concerned automakers are correct that giving more parties access to connected car data creates bigger security risks. However, giving automakers exclusive control of over-the-air updates still doesn't make the data completely safe.
Just a few years ago,
was handed a class-action lawsuit due to its hackable Uconnect system.
While nobody was injured due to this data breach, it resulted in a recall for millions of vehicles. It doesn't exactly inspire trust in an automaker's customers and might make them avoid these cars.

One big flaw in the automakers' argument

Although automakers conceal telematics for safety reasons, there's something to be said for the ethical connotations of that argument. By refusing to give that information to the actual driver, that in itself could be considered a breach of privacy. Of course, one could argue that comes with the territory of owning a connected car.
Still, one would never buy a computer or smartphone if they had any doubts about the company withholding that device's stored data. Some customers might also feel cheated to own a vehicle but not have any rights to data storage or release.
Some drivers might question the security infrastructure on connected cars due to the automakers' scaremongering language. Considering all the benefits that connected cars provide, this would be a shame. These vehicles can detect traffic conditions, contact emergency personnel independently, and even provide crucial information about missing persons.
Automakers might be better off trying to compromise with consumers about their rights regarding connected car data. In the future, insurance companies might add a policy protecting drivers from cybersecurity threats. Sign up with
and ask about the latest insurance policies related to connected cars.

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