While most FBI coverage these days revolves around its ongoing battle with Apple, the government organization has taken time out to make a public service announcement – issued together with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – warning drivers that motor vehicles are “increasingly vulnerable” to hacking.
“The FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers – of vehicles, vehicle components, and aftermarket devices – to maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles,” the agencies said in the bulletin.
The PSA isn’t the result of the agencies discovering some previously unknown forms of vehicle hacks, so it’s a surprise that it’s taken them this long to point out the dangers. While the document does praise the benefits of connected vehicles, it warns owners to be aware of the unique threats they may face.
“Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience,” the PSA reads. “Aftermarket devices are also providing consumers with new features to monitor the status of their vehicles. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats.”
The PSA offers some tips to lessen the risk of vehicles being hacked. These include keeping the software up to date but also making sure to verify the authenticity of the notifications; being careful when modifying the vehicle software and knowing who has physical access to it; and being wary when connecting third-party devices, such as insurance dongles and other telematics and vehicle monitoring tools.
Last year there were several instances of vulnerabilities being exposed in connected vehicles. A zero-day exploit in the Jeep Cherokee forced Chrysler to issue a recall, and a team of researchers showed how they could control a vehicle’s critical functions via an insurance dongle.