Used car security questioned over former owners' app connections

Manufacturers have no way to disconnect cars' apps from former owners who can track their old cars, a computer security expert has warned

Used car buyers can have their cars tracked by former owners who fail to disconnect their smartphones from applications in cars, a computer security researcher has warned.

IBM researcher, Charles Henderson, has called on carmakers to do a better job of protecting new owners after he found he was still connected to his old car after a year of selling it.

Henderson said that even though he deleted all personal details in the car before selling it on, it remained linked with his phone, allowing him to track its details.

He argued that manufacturers have no way to disconnect the car's apps from former owners. “The car is really smart but it’s not smart enough to know who its owner is, so it’s not smart enough to know it’s been re-sold.”

Auto Express previously highlighted similar issues with a number of other owners. A Land Rover Discovery Sport owner who sold his car privately was able to continue accessing the car’s InControl app even though the new owner was now on the other side of the country. He could still find out the car's location, and worryingly whether or not it was locked.

Car dealers warned to tighten up cyber security to KO hackers

Another second-hand owner contacted Auto Express over saved addresses on his Honda CR-V's sat-nav. They had bought the car from a “famous celebrity’s wife” but were stunned to see all previous sat-nav destinations were stored in the car’s system.

Both Land Rover and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told Auto Express that while manufacturers are able to remove owners’ details from cars (but not necessarily disconnect them from the apps), it’s the user’s responsibility to remove their old vehicle from their account after selling it.

• Car hacking: study shows over 100 models at risk

The news comes after cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab found security issues with seven Android apps for cars. For now the company has not named the apps, but said they lacked the most basic software defences to protect drivers from having their details stolen.

The company said hackers could use any of the seven apps to locate a car, unlock it and even in some instances start the car. Viktor Chebyshev, Kaspersky researcher said: “Why don’t connected car application developers care about security as much as the developers of banking applications? They are also controlling very valuable things for the user, but they’re not thinking about security mechanisms.” 

Do you use car apps regularly? Tell us in the comments below...

Recommended

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms digital driving licences are on the way
Digital driving licence
Consumer news

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms digital driving licences are on the way

DVLA plans to offer a digital provisional driving licence by 2024, with full digital licences to follow at a later date
17 Sep 2021
Electric car charge points to be installed in every new home in the UK
Home charging point
News

Electric car charge points to be installed in every new home in the UK

England will be the first country in the world to introduce mandatory electric car charging points for new-build homes
10 Sep 2021
Government asks for more Smart Motorway safety data with revised Highway Code on the way
smart motorway
News

Government asks for more Smart Motorway safety data with revised Highway Code on the way

A revised version of the Highway Code will cover Smart Motorway driving, as National Highways pledges to improve data and monitoring
8 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump
News

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Exclusive: banned 71-reg number plates released
Number plates
News

Exclusive: banned 71-reg number plates released

Latest DVLA list of banned UK registrations reveals which 71-plates are too rude for the road
21 Sep 2021
£6k Citroen Ami electric city car gets green light for the UK
Citroen Ami UK - front static
Citroen

£6k Citroen Ami electric city car gets green light for the UK

The Ami is coming to the UK with a price tag of around £6,000, making it one of the cheapest ways to get a new car today
22 Sep 2021
'The Citroen Ami is the perfect affordable car for short journeys'
Citroen Ami
Citroen

'The Citroen Ami is the perfect affordable car for short journeys'

Having lived with a Citroen Ami for a few weeks, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler is delighted that it's coming to the UK
22 Sep 2021