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02 October 2023

Car hacking: How safe is your vehicle?

By Staff

Just as newer costly cars come loaded with technology, car thieves too have devised ways to get around and one of their big ways of stealing vehicles is now called car hacking.

This is in fact a type of internet crime where criminals can seize control of a vehicle from their laptops, sometimes from across the country.

With rapidly developing in-car technologies, vehicles are increasingly vulnerable to hacks, particularly the keyless entry hack and the UConnect hack.

The keyless entry hack is a popular car exploit which works by intercepting radio signals to lock and unlock car doors.

The hacker grabs the code and resends it to the car.
Voila! Open sesame. The criminals can proceed to take any valuables they find inside the car.

The UConnect hack works by gaining access to the car's internal network via the Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling the firmware to be completely re-written in order to grant access to the car's physical controls, making the car steer wildly, speed up or slow down and even blow out its tires.

Car hacking is a growing problem in developed countries, particularly in the UK, where last year, 6000 vehicles were stolen using the keyless entry hack in London alone.

But, is car hacking relevant in the UAE?

In the Middle East, including the UAE, there is a strong market for luxury vehicles. BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have all recorded sales growth.
High income and buying habits mean that a significant proportion of vehicles owned by motorists in the Middle East are internet connected.

Because modern cars are predominantly computer controlled, they are more difficult to hot-wire, leading to organised criminals to resort to hacking.

According to a study conducted by PWC, internet crime is the second most common economic crime in the Middle East.
Despite being punishable with imprisonment and fines of up $545 million, it will continue to grow as internet usage in the region rises.
The loss due to internet crime is estimated to be between $1 million and $100 million annually.

Comparatively, car hacking is not relevant in Asia and Africa, at least for now.
With an average selling price of $55,000, internet connected vehicles are out of reach for most car buyers in the emerging world.

This information has been provided by Carmudi, an online place for buying or selling cars