Car Hacks: What You Should Know (& How To Avoid Them)

While it's true that recent electric models come with state-of-the-art technologies, the chances of a hack also increase. How do these hacks occur, and what can drivers do to avoid them? Aside from EVs, cars with internal combustion engines are also prone to security breaches. Today, cars have become smarter with tech integrated into nearly every area. For example, instead of locking the door with a physical key, automakers have developed a Digital Key that not only locks and unlocks the car but is also synchronized with the infotainment system. This means drivers can now use their smartphones to control several critical functions.


With these advancements come the possibilities of hacks. Some cyber-terrorists prey on vulnerabilities in automobiles, and it has become easier due to cars' systems' sophistication. Essentially, cars produced nowadays are computers on wheels, and computers get compromised regularly. Autonomous vehicles, though not released on a commercial scale, can be hacked. Seeing as they are the future of mobility, this should worry both automakers and consumers.

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Aside from cars, hackers have been known to penetrate the systems of EV charging stations. In 2021, Pod Point, an electric vehicle charging provider in the UK, reported that a security flaw in its application exposed 140,000 users' data to theft. The report believes cyber criminals could uncover customer data like full names, addresses, card details and charge history. Earlier this year, a hacker informed the Tesla community on Twitter about his ability to remotely control over 25 executive functions on a Tesla. The functions range from disabling Sentry Mode to initiating Keyless Driving. An investigation conducted by Pen Test Partners revealed weaknesses that could enable the hijack of millions of user accounts at EV chargers. Due to API authorization problems, there was a high chance that malicious actors could remotely control the chargers.

How To Avoid Car Hacks

Car Hacking

Normally, manufacturers are expected to shore up defense systems for their models before shipping them to dealerships. If a car comes with an increased level of security, chances are that hackers will find it challenging to gain access. However, drivers can do a few things to safeguard their cars from threat actors.

To start with, drivers should be mindful of the software they install. They should only install manufacturer-approved software since third-party applications are known to possess a great deal of malware. Frequent software updates can also boost the car's security level. Nowadays, automakers roll out software upgrades using over-the-air updates. Getting a vehicle that supports OTA updates is a wise decision at this point—turning off Bluetooth when not in use is a smart move, as hackers have previously exploited weaknesses in that feature.

Sources: Which?, Pen Test Partners