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  • The growth of vehicle cyber attacks

    vehicle cyber crime

    In the evolving world that we live in we are forever having to try and keep one step ahead of vehicle crime.

    We are used to scam telephone calls and emails, we are aware of the crash for cash culture and fraud issues that have increased dramatically over the last few years but how many people are aware of the increasing number of cyber-attacks on modern vehicles?

    What is a vehicle cyber attack?

    First of all what does a cyber-attack of a vehicle entail? There are two main forms of this, one entails unlocking your vehicle via technology referred to as jammers which are readily available, this enables thieves access to any belongings from your vehicle. This obviously causes inconvenience and aggravation. Fleet insurance policies will also not cover any theft or attempted theft if there is no physical evidence of forced entry plus you will need to replace any items that have been stolen.

    Taking this a step further, once access is gained to your vehicle thieves are able to plug a sophisticated reader into your vehicles OBD port (On Board Diagnostics Port) and copy the coding from the vehicles software of the master key coding to a blank key which they can then simply use to drive your vehicle away!

    The other aspect is actually taking control of your vehicle or from a company point of view, vehicles. This entails hacking remotely into vehicles via their computer systems and then taking over the controls of the vehicle, which can lead to a hacker remotely operating your vehicle.

    This may sound extreme and something from the future but with the ever increasing number of vehicles which are already utilising autonomous technology and with the future of vehicles becoming fully autonomous there will be an increased risk of this type of attack occurring.

    How are vehicle cyber attacks carried out?

    Some extreme examples of what can occur are already in circulation on various social media sites with hackers demonstrating taking control of vehicles from laptop computers several miles away.

    This may entail stopping a fleet of vehicles from being able to be accessed and operated, leaving a company with no ability to meet its business obligations and therefore having a major impact on its ability to provide services to its customer base, the knock on effect of this not only being financial but also from an aspect of reputation amongst others.

    In one example the driver starts seeing the controls of his vehicle change including the stereo, lights, and air conditioning before the steering is then taken out of his control along with the braking of the vehicle. The vehicle is then immobilised whilst still on the main road which is clearly a very dangerous situation.

    The worst case scenarios of this are clear for all to see and very much dependant on the nature of what the offenders are after, whether this be financial gain, political gain or cyber vandalism.

    How to prevent vehicle cyber attacks

    Whilst the motor manufacturers are working hard to build in suitable systems within their vehicles and develop regular I.T. updates to combat these crimes it is imperative that people are aware of this new crime as we will no doubt see an increase in the numbers of incidents that are occurring in the not too distant future.

    What can be done about this? Well there are a few basic options at present which can help prevent the jamming devices being able to access your vehicles technology once they have bypassed the locking systems. There are OBD port locks which are reasonably priced in comparison to the overall loss of a vehicle taking into account the aggravation and inconvenience. These are easily accessible from many retail outlets and internet websites and are proving priceless to the people that have purchased them to date.

    You could go extreme and pay for the OBD port to be moved to a different area of the vehicle, however this will not ultimately stop potential thieves finding it but would offer a delay and therefore put a lot of thieves off as time is very much of the essence when stealing a vehicle!

    Ultimately it boils down to the good old fashioned basics of not displaying or leaving anything of value in a vehicle as well as leaving it in a brightly safe lit area to reduce the chances of any thieves attempting to take the vehicle.

    Of course fitting a tracking device or additional Thatcham approved category one or category five device will deter and in cases where the vehicle is stolen track it which heavily increases the chances of recovery of the vehicle.

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