It might sound far-fetched to some, but hacking your vehicle computer system from a distance is a reality. Believe it or not, a computer can be programmed to take complete control of your car. Let’s take a closer look at the seriousness of this threat.

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Loss Of Control

As shown in this video by Wired, a test Jeep Cherokee was hacked while on the highway by computer specialists miles away. AC fans were activated, images uploaded to the dashboard screen, the radio turned on, the windshield wipers activated, and finally… the engine killed. The Internet connection installed in the car made it vulnerable to the cyber-attack.

Connectivity also may enable hackers to access important vehicle information such as the vehicle identification number (VIN) and GPS data. Lock and window control is child’s play. Even steering and braking can be taken over, since modern vehicles have computerized stability control and brake assistance. Since the airing of the video, Chrysler has released a security patch, but millions of vehicles out there are still potentially vulnerable to attack.

Are Older Cars Safer?

You may be thinking that your older model car is safe, but new data tells a different story. Even vehicles as old as 20 years can be compromised. Their steering and braking might not be susceptible to hijacking, but a key fob unlock device is a point of weakness. By intercepting the radio signal, hackers can unlock doors within a distance of about 300 feet, as revealed by research at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

What’s Being Done About Car Hacking?

As of this writing, there have been no confirmed reports of criminal vehicle hacking from a distance. But although this is all experimental, it doesn’t mean there’s no risk. Car manufacturers are currently scrambling to reprogram vehicles and are providing downloads to beef up security.

There’s even a bill being presented to the Senate that would make car hacking a crime that comes with a life sentence. And, the auto industry has taken a renewed interest in improving digital security measures. Things promise to get even more complex as the number of self-driving cars on our roads increases.

How Can You Prevent Car Hacking?

Short of keeping your factory security systems updated, there’s not much you can do. At the present time, the risk of your car being hacked is very low, certainly much lower even than being involved in a minor fender bender.

However, as the technological complexity of cars increases, so does the cost of their repairs. To protect your car from high repair costs, get a free online quote from CARCHEX.