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

Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving
Tired driver
News

Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving

Research produces worrying revelation that four million UK motorists have nodded off behind the wheel at some point
16 Jun 2021
Thatcham approved devices and crash tests explained
Joe Finnerty in Hyper G sled
Consumer news

Thatcham approved devices and crash tests explained

Thatcham studies crashes, rates alarms and sets insurance groups to help cut drivers’ costs. We find out how
11 May 2021
Company car tax guide 2021/2022: everything you need to know
Executive saloons make popular company cars
Consumer news

Company car tax guide 2021/2022: everything you need to know

Company car tax is bound up in a complex net of emissions, salaries and a car's value; we explain how the system looks for the 2021/22 Financial Year
27 Apr 2021
No new smart motorways to open without stopped vehicle detection
smart motorway
News

No new smart motorways to open without stopped vehicle detection

Implementation of SVD technology to be accelerated, with existing smart motorways getting the system six months earlier than planned
21 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now
Hyundai Tuscon N Line - front
Hyundai Tucson

New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now

Hyundai names price for new Tucson N-Line hybrid duo with plug-in offering 38 miles of electric running
18 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage
Mercedes-AMG S 63
Mercedes S-Class

New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage

AMG will soon launch a tuned version of Mercedes’s flagship limousine, probably powered by a 603bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine
18 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 
Porsche Communication Management 6.0 911
Porsche

Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 

Porsche’s sixth-generation touchscreen will be rolled out across the firm’s line-up, adding new connectivity features and natural voice control
17 Jun 2021