'Connected' car fraud cases up 99% in just a year

Connected cars allow owners to user remote locking and smartphone linking but can also make them more suseptible to scammers. (Evgeny Tchebotarev/Unsplash)

Fraud related to ‘connected’ cars, which can access the internet, nearly doubled from 2018 to 2019, data shows.

Analysis by Uswitch found the number of reported cyberattacks on connected cars shot up a massive 99% in just one year.

While connected cars allow owners to use remote car locking and smart-phone linking, they could also make them susceptible to scammers, Uswitch warned.

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Connected cars can collect up to 25GB of personal data every hour. As all of this data is stored, cyber-attackers could access this information should they hack into the car or its linked devices.

A standard connected car uses 150 million lines of code — a staggering 103.5 million more lines of code than a Boeing 787 jet.

Scammers only need to change a few lines of code to steal personal data. Recently, cybercriminals stole 380,000 customer’s data from British Airways by changing just 22 lines of code.

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Currently, 67% of new UK cars are connected, meaning that over two thirds of the nation’s newest cars are vulnerable to personal data fraud. 

It’s also predicted by that by 2026, 100% of new cars will be ‘connected’ — suggesting the number of fraud cases are only set to rise.

“Even if basic privacy measures were put in place, we feel anonymised data can be easily matched with other elements to break down any attempts to promote user privacy,” cybersecurity expert Jonathon O’Mara, from CompareMyVPN, explained.

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“In addition, the car companies themselves can now collect huge swathes of rich personal data — mainly location-based and habitual movements.”

He added: “This also covers connected device activity such as calls made, messages and phone numbers, which for privacy-concerned individuals is quite alarming. 

“What we need is pressure from regulators and the cybersecurity industry to ensure that connected car data is encrypted end-to-end to reduce any threat from a third party, as well as what data is actually stored and kept.”