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How Your Car is Spying on You

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(guest post by Chris Jones)

Smart devices are now the norm and they’re providing us with some amazing opportunities. You now have access to information wherever you are and whenever you need it. While there’s a lot of good that comes from these technologies, there are some real concerns as well.

One such concern has everything to do with the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of interconnected smart devices exchanging information. Think your Alexa, voice-activated lights, app-controlled fridge, and even your home security system.

As Harold Li, Vice President of internet security firm ExpressVPN, puts it:

“Home surveillance technology is often viewed as an investment for safety, security, and peace of mind. But if improperly used, it can become modern peeping-tom technology instead. These devices are recording 24/7, and can easily be used to invade your privacy if they are abused. Consumers should really be asking themselves: Is my home surveillance gadget protecting me or spying on me?”

So if we can’t guarantee our own privacy in our own homes, where are we free? Not in your car either. Just like any device, modern cars are smart IoT devices with the ability to spy on you.

What Does Your Car Know? While you might not think of your car as being in the same category as your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The truth is, though, they’re equipped with some of the most sophisticated computer elements we have. Gone are the days of cars without a computerized motherboard.

The sensors used to keep your car running are continually recording data and sending that data on to automakers and company databases. Emergency systems are invaluable when they’re needed, but when they aren’t, you’re constantly connected, and your behavior, conversations, and other personal information could be recorded without your consent.

Reports show that up to 96 percent of new cars on the market are equipped with these capabilities If you’re a frequent car renter, you may be disheartened to know that some rental companies have even installed additional spyware to keep watch over their property while it’s in your possession.

What You Can Do About Your Spying Car

Currently, there’s not a whole lot you can do if you’re driving a recent model, and you may not have the option to opt out of some of the devices your car is equipped with.

It’s best to make an informed decision before making a purchase. Find out what your potential new ride is capable of, and ask for information on the manufacturer’s data policies. Or, you can go vintage and buy vehicles without smart functionalities. But as older car models begin to age out of use, you may find yourself owning a car with spy-like capabilities.

It seems a shame though, that we must pick either the latest and greatest functions or our privacy. Perhaps in the future cars will come with the option to choose and install our preferred operating system. Once we have greater personal control over our individual IoT networks, we can implement measures to ensure our personal data and whereabouts.

Such measures include using an encrypted wifi connection, which is possible by setting up a VPN on your router. This is a great way to protect your personal IoT network, including smart security cameras.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a software that provides a secure connection for you to use the internet without compromising your device’s speed or performance. A VPN prevents others from listening in or poaching your personal information. A VPN can also serve as a proxy, rerouting your server so you can disguise your location and hold on to your anonymity.

It’s impossible to avoid technology, but with the availability of other technologies, you don’t need to. Instead of trying to hide from the spying abilities of smart devices, embrace the tools that are available, such as a VPN router, to keep your data secure. Get the protection you deserve wherever you go, even if avoiding a spying car isn’t always possible.

How does a VPN interface with the car or other device? A VPN is a secure tunnel between your device (or car) and the internet. In this specific case, we use VPNs to encrypt communications between the car and the internet, but also to avoid spying and throttling on the internet.

You can install a VPN app on your Macbook, Windows or Linux computer, Android or iPhone phones, or even on your router. There are also plugins for Chrome and Firefox web browsers. A single VPN addresses all privacy and security concerns connected to the internet.

Look for a VPN with numerous servers that can easily accommodate all of their consumers. Consider speed capabilities carefully, as a VPN that slows down your connectivity will be frustrating. A high-quality VPN service can give you the protection you deserve wherever you go, even if avoiding a spying car isn’t always possible.

Here’s a good, short video that explains what VPNs do:

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