Nowadays, phone connectivity is increasingly a desired feature that clients look for when choosing a car. Our perspective of “the ideal car” and final decision when buying one is biased a lot by the model’s tech savviness. I agree, it is very convenient in today’s busy lifestyle to have a car with so many features. But does technologically current mean the same as high level privacy? Maybe not so much!
Andre Amico, a privacy and cybersecurity advocate who specializes in information security (Infosec) relating to automobiles, recently presented on the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth. Our cars help us navigate each day of our life. As a result, they are a data mine holding a lot of information about that person in the driver seat. If you have ever connected your phone to your vehicle via Bluetooth, your car may be a mobile log book containing the addresses of places you have visited, the phone numbers you have contacted and the texts messages you have received. That’s a lot of personal information to keep or even pass along to the next person who owns the car! All of this information exists in the infotainment systems and will often stay there unless someone makes an active effort to remove it before changing owners.
We might be thinking that the information is only accessible when you connect the phone. Amico’s presentation shows otherwise. During the presentation, he showed videos where car after car, he was able to go around the Bluetooth security and gain access to stored contacts, call logs, text logs, full text messages without the user’s knowledge and without the user’s phone being connected to the system.
Whose responsibility is it to remove this information? Should you be “wiping” cars that are passing through your hands? Should you be deleting the electronic PII (Personal Identifiable Information) as a buyer or as seller or when handling a lease end return or a total loss vehicle? Irrespective of the answer, Privacy4Cars app, created by Amico is a good solution. In addition to the user’s manual that can guide you through how to unpair phones and reset systems, this app that is available for smartphones, walks you through the process of deleting sensitive data from hundreds of different makes and models. This app is free for consumers, but there is a fee for businesses. More information on this can be found at Privacy4cars.com.