How to protect your car from a cybersecurity threat

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — We start our cars daily without considering the technology that makes them function.

Like your computer or smartphone, modern cars have a lot of tech inside.

“Automobile engines which now have up to 30 different computers in it,” said Greg Tomchick, CEO of Valor Cybersecurity.

Software provides computers with instructions on how to operate.

“Those instructions can be changed at any time … somebody from the outside tries to start your car from the outside,” Tomchick said.

Modern cars are just as vulnerable to things like viruses or hacking as computers.

He said your car can even collect information, such as where you are going and even how fast you’re driving.

Someone with bad intentions can get hold of it.

“Anybody that wants to peek in behind those curtains can in this world,” Tomchick said.

So, how do you protect yourself?

First, stay current with software updates.

“Software is constantly getting out of date,” Tomchick said. “We are now seeing that in cars that are breaking down on the side of the road. It’s not mechanical. It’s something in the internet connection.”

He said you can also turn off accessories you aren’t using.

“These cars come with everything on,” he said. “Go through and think about what you need turned on and turned off. If you minimize that landscape, people are less likely to take advantage of you.”

He urges you to use a password or some authentication in your car.

Tomchick said the car industry needs to step up to educate consumers.

“It’s the responsibility of the manufacturer, the dealer and the regulator, the FDC, at this point to make sure those requirements the automobile companies have to follow are up to standard,” he said. “The end user knows the risk, and I think that’s on the dealer’s side.”

More information

Greg Tomchick and his team at Valor Cybersecurity compiled a resource to help you navigate protecting yourself and your car. Click here to read.