How the IoT Is Changing the Way We Think About Our Vehicles

 By Jason Aleman | Monday, August 1, 2016

When we think about securing our digital lives, what are the common best practices that come to mind?

Change your online passwords. Use an anti-virus solution. Check your credit report. Never open an email attachment from a source you don’t know. Be careful using public Wi-Fi.

Yes, it’s possible it’s possible and the concerns are legitimate. But keep in mind in those well-publicized hacks, the hacker had physical access to the vehicle.

They’re mostly about protecting your phones, computers, and online accounts.

But what about your vehicle?

Most newer vehicles have Internet connectivity and digitally store personal, sensitive information about us. On-board GPS systems allow the driver to store common addresses, including addresses of our homes. Some vehicle computers allow the driver to save phone numbers and addresses of family and friends.

Mobile device on wheels

If a thief steals your vehicle, they would not only get access to this digital information, but also any other paper-based records stored in the glove compartment (registration, insurance forms, or even bills).

When it comes to protecting your personal information from identity theft, your vehicle needs to be among your top assets to protect, along with your phone, computer and tablet. This is especially true as our vehicles become even more intertwined with the broader Internet of Things.

As we’ve shared on this blog, the era of the connected vehicle has given rise to the “Connected Vehicle Thief.” In this era, a vehicle is no longer a machine to take us from point A to point B. It’s becoming a IoT-powered mobile device on wheels, connected to the cloud and other IoT devices.

A change in mindset

So, how can vehicle owners protect themselves from potential threats?

As vehicles become smarter, we need to take steps to protect the digital information stored in our vehicles just as we would with computers and phones. But it will be even more important than ever to safeguard our vehicles against theft, because the stakes are higher.

Even as vehicle thieves get more sophisticated, simple, common sense measures to protect vehicles, like not leaving our vehicles running unattended, not leaving valuables in the vehicle, and parking in safe areas, still work. Additional measures can help too. Programming the location of a street address near your home into your GPS, and not your actual home, helps ensure that a car thief can’t easily find where you live. As we learn more about the threats to our vehicles, we will pass along tips on how to help protect against those emerging tactics. Changing the way we think about our vehicles so that they’re another smart device to protect will go a long way to keeping us safe in the era of the connected vehicle.