Heads up: Hackers can target your vehicle

Hackers exploit security vulnerabilities in new automobile connectivity technology. Learn about this threat and how to stay safe in this guide.

The automotive industry is transforming. Manufacturers shift their focus to modern software features. They also embrace the advantages of connectivity and 5G implementation. These technologies revolutionize automobiles as we know them. Not only making them safer or more robust but also personalized for consumer use.

But innovations come with cybersecurity risks. And it’s nothing new. Hackers have exploited hardware and software vulnerabilities in cars since 2010. Nonetheless, these threats have grown in size and scale with the deployment of new technologies. Automakers face pressure to deliver new products. It often doesn’t leave enough time to think about cybersecurity capabilities.

Thus, it’s crucial to understand the cyber threats that car manufacturers and drivers face. Learn how hackers exploit vulnerabilities and how to secure vehicles in this article.

Why Hackers Attack Vehicles

Worldwide cyber-attacks are on the rise. Between 2016 and 2017, the cost of all cyber-attacks rose by 23 percent. Automobiles are yet another target. And these attacks are among the fastest-growing because of the new connectivity technology in vehicles.

Cars have many security vulnerabilities and potential weaknesses for exploitation. Phishing, leaked databases, open ports, fake apps, insider threats, credential leakage – it can all lead to cyberattacks on your car.

It’s even possible to find complete tutorials on how to use system vulnerabilities to steal cars.

Thus, hackers may target your vehicle for potential theft. If that doesn’t prove viable, they may instead take any data stored in the car’s computer system or disable your vehicle.

How Cybercriminals Attack Vehicles

Before hacking into cars took too much effort. A criminal would need to be in the vicinity of a target vehicle to make an attack. In most cases, it wasn’t worth the time and effort.

Now cars have added WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. Not to mention computer systems and software applications that include millions of lines of codes. It all creates countless entry points and channels for criminals to attack from a distance.

And cybercriminals don’t even need to be particularly sophisticated for that. There are now many dark web forums for hackers to exchange techniques and malware. Even sites on the regular web provide criminals with plenty of resources to do damage.

To make matters worse, there are online shops that sell automobile immobilizers and code grabbers. These tools can unlock and disable any vehicle. Worse yet, one can buy them for as little as $32.

Cellular Attack and Other Major Threats

Hackers can do more than steal data. They can cause severe damage. More carriers now have SIM cards installed that connect to cellular networks. It enables manufacturers to get real-time information about vehicles, upgrade firmware, and more.

But data researchers have found that they could hack a car by interacting with the cellular network connection. This way, it’s possible to gain significant control over the vehicle – stop engines, start breaks, and interact with other core functions. Attacks like these can put drivers at serious risk.

What Can Manufacturers and Drivers Do to Ensure Safety?

Connectivity won’t go away. It’s the backbone of autonomous vehicles. And the benefits are far too great. It reduced driver fatalities, increased efficiency, and introduced countless other benefits. And these great features function through cellular or WiFi connection.

It’s up to manufacturers to secure all these entry points and patch up the vulnerabilities. But it doesn’t mean the owner of the car should do nothing. If hackers gain access to smartphones which have software linked to vehicles, it’s only downhill from there. Thus, the very least, it’s essential to safeguard the devices linked to the car that connects to the internet.

Use antivirus software, be aware of phishing and other scams, never reuse passwords – you know the drill. (Hopefully). The most underrated cyber threat preventive measure is the use of a virtual private network (https://nordvpn.com/download/) technology. VPNs offer end-to-end encryption for your connection to the internet. It can prevent hackers from gaining access to data in transfer, especially on a less secure network.


Connectivity is changing everything. More devices become a part of the Internet-of-Things, making our lives more convenient and connected. Nonetheless, it also creates a potential goldmine for cybercriminals. And the automobiles are only one of many places where these threats manifest.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, keep in mind the potential cyber threats too. Cybercriminals can exploit the software features of the car, and it can cause as much trouble as any other malfunction. Be aware of the potential threats and make sure you’re not jeopardising the security of your car with compromised devices.

Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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