Less than 1% of UK drivers aware of hacking threats – new research
Nearly all UK drivers with keyless technology are unaware of the major digital threats posed by hackers, according to research conducted by MoneySuperMarket.
The study reveals that 99% of drivers are unaware of security flaws such as phone phishing, where hackers send emails to drivers which contain malicious links that connect to a car’s Wi-Fi features and take control.
MoneySuperMarket says 16% of drivers - or someone they know - have experienced car hacking. Also, eight out of 10 drivers do not know if their insurance covers digital threats.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show an overall 19% increase in vehicle crime, along with a 29% increase related to vehicle interference since 2014.
In addition to the lack of awareness, only half of drivers are concerned about vehicle theft via keyless entry - despite 110 car models being vulnerable to this threat.
The research says criminals often attack cars by using a relay system to amplify the vehicle’s key signal from inside a property - so that it reaches the car on the driveway.
Hackers can also exploit local remote control apps, which drivers use to start and control their car, as well as use sensors inside a tyre to display false pressure readings or track the vehicle.
Other methods include keyless jamming as well as hacks on the car’s controller area network and on-board diagnostics.
The survey shows only one in five drivers are taking steps to protect their vehicles by disabling their keys when not in use. Motorists can place their keys in a secure holder such as a microwave or a Faraday cage, an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields.
Despite the risks, 13% of drivers are excited about cars with automation, Wi-Fi hotspots and biometric access. However, 22% consider this technology to be a security threat.
Tom Flack, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, advises car buyers to fully research a vehicle’s capabilities and limitations before buying one. He stresses that car owners should also improve their awareness of any potential security flaws.
“Sometimes an old-fashioned security method, such as a steering lock, can be all that’s needed to protect against criminals,” Flack adds.
He explains insurers will pay out for keyless theft, also called ‘relaying,’ as long as the owner/ driver has taken reasonable care to protect their property.
“Owners of cars deemed by insurers to be a particular risk of keyless theft may find they are charged higher premiums as a result,” he concludes.