Protect your vehicle by thinking like the “Connected Vehicle Thief”

  • October 4, 2016
  • Scott at LoJack

One of the most common questions we get from consumers is: “What can I do to prevent my vehicle from being stolen?”

No measure will be 100 percent effective. All we can do is mitigate the chances.

One of the best countermeasures is to try to think like a thief might. For example, if your park in unfamiliar area, take a moment to look at your vehicle and the surroundings. Is the area well lit? Does it look safe? Are there valuables laying in plain view in the vehicle that may be enticing for a thief?

This common sense approach has worked for a long time. But in the era of the “Connected Vehicle Thief,” thieves’ tactics are becoming more advanced, and vehicle theft often results in identity theft too. These days, our cars are more connected to our lives, via the onboard computers that may store phone numbers, or with items that we leave in our cars, like receipts, and other pieces of data. Our vehicles don’t have to be connected via telematics to gain access to other areas of our lives.

Consumers can better protect themselves by taking this mindset to another level. In addition to asking the questions above, here are some other questions to consider:

If my vehicle is stolen, what kind of personal data could the thief get access to?

The Connected Vehicle Thief knows that today’s cars carry more information and data than ever before – so identity theft has become a more serious threat. With bits of data, an identity thief can piece together enough information to impersonate you and gain access to money, credit, healthcare services and more. That information can be valuable to a thief and your car may contain credit card details on receipts lying around the car, location information like your home address, the name of your employer, and more. The “Connected Vehicle Thief” knows that if this information is obtained, it makes the theft of your vehicle even more profitable. With this kind of personal information, it may be possible for a hacker to eventually access any of your online accounts. So when these criminals are eyeing your vehicle, they’re seeing a data hub on wheels – and they’re looking to take more than just your car keys. Simple measures, like not programming your home address into your vehicle’s GPS and not leaving sensitive documents in your vehicle’s glove compartment, can start to protect you against more troubles.

Could my vehicle’s key fob be exploited?

Law enforcement agencies nationwide, especially in the Washington state area, have noticed an uptick in tech-savvy thieves stealing cars without even touching the physical car key. How? The Connected Vehicle Thief has realized that most residents leave their wireless key fobs relatively close to the vehicle when at home – maybe hanging on a loop in the kitchen or breezeway near the garage. By carrying scanning boxes, or devices designed to exploit the electronic system utilized by key fobs, these criminals can unlock and even start vehicles as long as the key is in close enough range. Outsmart this tech-savvy thief by keeping your smart key close. Bring it upstairs with you to your bedroom (so it is out of range of the vehicle), or store it in the freezer so the signal cannot be jumped.

Is my vehicle’s wireless network vulnerable?

Millions of vehicles on the road today offer in-vehicle connectivity, including cellular data connections. The Connected Vehicle Thief is well aware of developing cybercrime tactics, such as a ransomware attack, where victims must pay criminals a ransom to restore decrypted information. This type of threat is currently happening with computers and laptops. Vehicle-enabled ransomware is a predictable next step for hackers, who may soon be able to break into a vehicle, disable it, and demand ransom if the driver wants to restore the vehicle back to its functional state. The Connected Vehicle Thief is also keeping an eye on the growing possibility of remote hacking. Being aware of these cyber threats, and downloading software patches recommended by the manufacturer, are simple ways you can better protect your vehicle. It’s important to trust your information and your belongings to products whose companies take security and privacy seriously. A security first approach is a way for companies to address security concerns up front, meaning that security is part of the design process, not an afterthought.

Thinking like the Connected Vehicle Thief means paying attention to technological developments, and spotting vulnerabilities. Scrutinize your vehicle through this mindset – and address any potential weaknesses before a criminal can exploit them. Don’t leave valuables and valuable information in your car, to help minimize the financial risk of auto theft. Once your vehicle is stolen, those items may be gone for good.

For more tips on protecting yourself from the “Connected Vehicle Thief,” please stay tuned for further updates from this blog.