Consumers Still Don’t Know How Hackable Cars Really Are

A new study by CarGurus a leading online auto marketplace, has found that despite the increased adoption of connected vehicle technology, consumers remain ill-informed about the potential security threats the technology presents. When tested on their knowledge of connected vehicle security, consumers were wrong on half the answers, scoring a failing average 49%.

Findings show that most consumers do not know or understand the security and privacy implications of connected vehicle technology:

  • 33% did not know that a key fob is a potential pathway for hackers to gain access to a connected vehicle.
  • 61% of connected vehicle owners did not know that a hacker can access the steering wheel or the brakes of their automobile.
  • 65% of connected vehicle owners incorrectly believed that the vehicle manufacturer is required to notify owners of software and security updates.

The research also uncovered an interesting trend over the past year around vehicle smartphone integration. While 70% of owners have synced their smartphones to their vehicles in that time frame, only 46% admit that they do not know the industry best practices on how to keep their personal data safe when driving their vehicle.

Consumer perception of the most at-risk devices could explain why more people are connecting to their cars but remain unaware of the security implications. Only 22% of people perceive connected vehicles as a significant threat to data security, compared to smartphones (45%), laptops/tablets (41%), smart speakers (40%) and smart home devices (30%).

“Consumers are excited about the new technology features that come when devices are connected to their vehicles, be it voice-activated texting, listening to music or getting the help of a virtual assistant,” said Madison Gross, Director of Customer Insights at CarGurus.  “As people embrace these new technologies that improve the driving experience, they should also remain vigilant about keeping software up to date and staying aware of what data is being accessed and stored on their vehicle.”