Everything a car knows about you, it can tell the whole world: how to protect your privacy

By Jurassic JennApr 6, 2024 21:03 PMCars
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Everything a car knows about you, it can tell the whole world
Everything a car knows about you, it can tell the whole world. Source: www.foxnews.com

Everyone knows that smartphones and laptops store confidential information and personal data that should be protected as the apple of your eye. These include photos, messages, passwords, and browsing history. At the same time, few people pay attention to the fact that a modern car is the same "smartphone on wheels" and performs similar functions to a phone in terms of collecting and storing information.

SSPDaily writes: "Your car can collect and transmit data about you, making it easy to find out where you go, what you say, what you're sick with, and more. Thus, according to a Mozilla study, most modern cars are just a gift for criminals and dishonest businessmen who use confidential information for mercenary purposes".

This data, according to experts, is collected by sensors, microphones, cameras, phones, and any devices you connect to the car. In addition, car apps, company websites, dealerships, and telematics systems collect data. And if you don't delete all this information before selling your car, you may find yourself in a very unpleasant situation.

What data does your car collect?

The amount and type of data depends on the make, model, and features of the car. The most common ones include:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Mileage, speed, fuel level, and oil life
  • Tire pressure, engine temperature, and battery status.
  • Braking, steering, and acceleration settings.
  • GPS location, destination, and route.
  • Voice commands, phone calls, and text messages.
  • Media preferences, playlists, and contacts
  • Biometric data - heart rate, blood pressure, and stress level.

Some of this is necessary for the proper functioning of the vehicle, some is useful for improving the driving experience, and some is highly confidential and personal, such as biometrics, phone calls, and text messages.

How do cars share information?

Your car can share information in a variety of ways, depending on the technology and the agreement you have with the manufacturer or service provider.

Here are the most common ways:

  • Cellular communication: The transmission is done via a network network - a SIM card or a smartphone connection. This is how cars offer remote engine start, emergency assistance, or navigation services. However, nothing prevents the vehicle from forwarding this information to the manufacturer or third parties without your knowledge or control.
  • Wi-Fi: The vehicle can connect to a Wi-Fi network at home, at the workplace, or at a public hotspot. This allows you to download software updates, access online services, or play multimedia files. At the same time, it means that the car can upload data to the "cloud" or other servers, without your consent or warning.
  • Bluetooth: The car can connect with your smartphone or other devices via Bluetooth. This allows you to make hands-free calls, play music, or use apps. However, it is also how the vehicle accesses contacts, messages or photos, with the ability to share the data with interested parties.
  • USB: The vehicle can read data from a USB storage device or a device connected to it. This allows you to play media files, update software, or send files. However, this also means that the car can copy data from the USB drive or device, again with the possibility of transferring it.

The main risks associated with collecting and sharing data about your car are

Your car may contain information about where you live, work, what stores you go to, and where you travel.

It can also "tell" about your personal and professional connections, media tastes, and health status. This data can be used by third parties to profile you, send you advertisements or discriminate against you.

Your car can be hacked. And then criminals will be able to control the vehicle. This can be done by intercepting wireless signals, infecting devices, or exploiting software vulnerabilities.

In case of renting, leasing or sharing a car, a third party can get access to the data, with the ability to control your actions

How to protect your privacy?

There are a number of measures you should take to protect your car data and privacy.

  • Before selling or exchanging your car, be sure to delete your personal data and settings, such as the infotainment system, companion app, and any third-party services. In each of them, look for the ability to delete information, log out of accounts, and unlink from the car.
  • When buying a used car, make sure that the previous owner deleted his or her connected account and performed a factory reset.
  • Provide access to your data only to trusted third parties
  • Always use strong passwords and set up two-factor authentication for apps and services that connect to your vehicle.
  • When connecting a mobile application to the vehicle, minimize the amount of data collected by the application. You can use the iOS or Android settings to limit the amount of data collected by your phone.
  • Disable or delete apps and accounts that you do not use or do not trust.
  • Refuse to share your mobile device's location data.
  • Before buying, renting, or using a car, read the privacy policy and terms of service of the manufacturer and service providers. Find out what data they collect, how they use it, to whom they share it, and how long they store it. Also, check whether you can refuse to have your data collected or transferred, and whether you can get a copy or delete your data.
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