Wireless technology in vehicles is far from secure, potentially giving hackers the ability to take control of automobiles or even steal personal data, a report from a senator’s office has revealed. Millions of cars and trucks are vulnerable to hacking through wireless technologies that could jeopardize driver safety and privacy, a report released late Sunday says.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is warning drivers that automobile companies are not doing enough to protect their customers’ privacy.
Senator Edward Markey
“Drivers have come to rely on these new technologies, but unfortunately the automakers haven’t done their part to protect us from cyber-attacks or privacy invasions,” Markey in a statement released to the Washington Post. “Even as we are more connected than ever in our cars and trucks, our technology systems and data security remain largely unprotected.”
Markey asked for data from 19 automakers, 16 of which complied.
The report is based on data received from BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Tesla were the companies that failed to comply with the senator’s request for information.
The senator’s office discovered that virtually every newer vehicle for sale includes “wireless technologies that could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions.”
The report, which was released Monday, also found security was lax when it comes to foiling remote access to a vehicle’s electronic systems. The report describes such security practices to be “inconsistent and haphazard.” The report added that many automakers were either unaware or unable to report on past hacking occurrences.
The report also detailed how auto companies not only track drivers’ behavior but also gather and store the data, often without customers’ knowledge or consent.
According to the data collected by the senator’s office, nine automakers use third-party companies to amass vehicle data — and some of the automakers even transmit the collected data to third-party data centers.
“This reveals that a majority of vehicle manufacturers offer features that not only record but also transmit driving history wirelessly to themselves or to third parties,” the report said.
Collected information includes driver locations and destinations, distances and times traveled, where a vehicle is parked and info entered into navigation systems. Vehicles’ diagnostic data is also recorded.
While none of the automakers would comment on the report, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers insisted the companies do all they can to ensure privacy and safety.
“Automakers believe that strong consumer data privacy protections and strong vehicle security are essential to maintaining the continued trust of our customers,” spokesman Wade Newton told the New York Times. “Auto engineers incorporate security solutions into vehicles from the very first stages of design and production — and security testing never stops.”