Car manufacturers secretly steal personal dataDecember 20, 2019
I wonder how many of you have ever read when buying a new car all that is written in small print.
By “new car” is meant something ultramodern that offers “communication services” from car internet radio to information from weather services or traffic alerts for a navigation system. If some of you do read the fine print in full, you will learn how this automaker is going to use all the data that your cars collect from you. This is the problem, even if for some it may not seem too important, at least for now.
Most drivers do not know or do not care about how many car manufacturers find out about them or their loved ones. Nevertheless, as soon as you understand that there is a certain “Big Brother” who monitors everyone’s lives and subsequently begins to control them, things can begin to change.
To get a sense of the extent of car theft, Washington Post technology columnist Jeffrey A. Fowler literally hacked into the 2017 Chevrolet Volt with a company called ARCCA, a car accident and forensic recovery company. Using a laptop, some unique software, a set of boards and dozens of sockets and screwdrivers, James Mason of ARCCA was able to detect several interconnected computers that can generate up to 25 gigabytes of data per hour from all the sensors of the car, including the location of the car at almost any time , his driving method, car phone call logs, addresses and many more.
For greater credibility, Mason also extracted data from the used Chevrolet infotainment system, which he bought on eBay. Obviously, the previous owner regularly called someone named “Sweetie” in their contacts, usually bought gas at a Gulf gas station, often ate in a restaurant called China, and used a Samsung Galaxy Note phone. A personal photo of Candy can also be retrieved from the system. He also hacked into Ford systems that record their location even when the navigation system is not in use, and most owners are unaware of this.
For comparison: only General Motors has about 11 million cars equipped with a 4G-LTE connection, while almost all new Audi, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz models can have Internet access or already have it. Moreover, the latest Tesla models are not only constantly connected to the carmaker via the Internet, but can also collect videos from their surroundings, and these are not the only cars that do this.
Many sensors and cameras on modern cars can continuously send (encrypted) data back to the automakers’ servers, which can largely act as if they all belong to it, and thus dispose of it at their discretion.
The worst that can happen is access to your personal space and your personal car. It has already been proven that a modern car can be hacked, and the IoT Internet of Things system can open the door to a completely different level of threats, as well as remotely control it, since many new cars are equipped with control devices by wire, which means that they, in fact are robots on wheels.
Who actually controls where all the data collected by modern cars goes to and how they are used? There is no legislation that directly prohibits car manufacturers from selling them to third parties. There is also no way to find out if the carmaker’s servers can be hacked. For example, if you have a paid OnStar service, then you also have access to an online store where your car can be directly connected to third-party applications for delivering pizza, a grocery store, or something else.
Of course, the convenience of IoT is awesome, and no one is talking about the fact that we should return to ancient accounts or payphones, but we should probably think about the potential disadvantages of the technology. Confidentiality must be ensured correctly no matter which product you intend to use.
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