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Internet-Connected Automobiles: Understanding the Risks Associated With Them

» Posted December 30, 2016Resources | Share This Post

Today, many cars come equipped with infotainment systems and/or Internet-equipped devices. Cars have a wide variety of different features that are dependent upon access to the Internet and many consumers opt to get their cars connected so they can be tied into the worldwide web even while driving.

While these in-vehicle electronic devices and smart devices are designed to make life easier for drivers, unexpected problems can arise.  If there are issues with your vehicle, you should find out about California’s car lemon law and other protections for car owners. By talking with an attorney about the problems you are having with your car, you can find out what, if any, legal remedy is available to you.

Motorists also need to be aware that problems with Internet-connected devices in cars can be much more serious than the device simply not working properly. As the Better Business Bureau reported recently, there is a very real risk that hackers will be able to access your car's computer.

The Risks of Internet-Connected Cars

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are able to take advantage of security holes in Wi-Fi connections when motorists connect their car with the web. These hackers can get into your car's computer system through the security gaps. Once into your car's computer, hackers can do things like steal data from your car or even take over the control of your vehicle.

While there is not yet widespread concern about the risk of hacking into networks in Internet-equipped cars, the number of connected cars on the roads rises every day. As older cars are replaced, the majority of new vehicles will be connected cars and could thus become a more desirable target for scam artists.  The FBI saw a similar pattern with Smartphones, with the hacking of phones becoming more common as the market grew saturated with connected mobile devices.

In light of the potentially increasing risk of hacked vehicles, the BBB had some advice for motorists to keep connected cars more secure. Advice includes:

  • Treating the car as if it were a computer: The car is connected to the Internet just as any other Internet-capable device you own.  This means you need to follow the same best practices for protection of your network as you do with your computer or with your home Wi-Fi.
  • Responding promptly to recalls:  If you're notified of a problem with the computer system in your vehicle, the recall notice needs to be taken seriously and requires swift action in responding to the recall. 
  • Keep car software up-to-date: Manufacturers usually release new software periodically, especially if they must patch security holes. By keeping your car's software updated, you'll always have the most secure software build available to the public.

If you are having problems with any component of your car, including the infotainment system, you need to understand how (and if) the law protects you. A California car lemon law attorney can provide you with invaluable advice on taking advantage of appropriate consumer protections to resolve vehicle issues.   


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