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Two U.S. government agencies have issued a warning to drivers about the dangers of car hacking, and how such incidents are becoming more and more commonplace nowadays.
The FBI and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a joint public service announcement Thursday cautioning drivers about what could happen if their vehicles’ infotainment systems get hacked and taken over remotely. Aside from infotainment systems, other components and features such as keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring, ignition control, and navigation systems could put a vehicle in danger of hacking. Third-party devices such as smartphones were also mentioned as potential gateways for car hackers.
“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,” reads the PSA in brief.
This PSA follows up on a study released by the U.S. government last year, showing how easily hackers can control a vehicle’s functions by taking advantage of wireless exploits. The tests showed that people could hack a vehicle wirelessly, using Wi-Fi some 100 feet away from the vehicle. But if hackers connect to a car’s mobile carrier, that would allow them to do their damage even from far-off places in the country.
The FBI and NHTSA also offered some helpful tips to drivers on how to avoid car hacking incidents, starting with updating a car’s software regularly. The agencies also suggested that drivers exercise caution when modifying this software. Another key point mentioned was that drivers should always keep tabs on the latest cybersecurity-related recall announcements from automakers and/or the NHTSA.
“In general, it is important that consumers maintain awareness of the latest recalls and updates affecting their motor vehicles,” the agencies wrote. “This can be done by following the instructions on NHTSA’s safercar.gov Web site, media and news announcements of recalls, contacting your nearest vehicle dealership, or checking the vehicle manufacturer’s Web site for recall-related information.”