Can My Car Get Hacked? 7 Tips To Prevent Car Hacking

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Since modern vehicles have computers in them, it is possible albeit uncommon for them to be hacked. Self-driving cars and other technologically advanced vehicles could be even more vulnerable to cyberattacks, especially until manufacturers develop sufficiently advanced cybersecurity measures.

Keep reading to learn about the steps you can take to protect yourself from car hacking and whether your car insurance policy is likely to provide coverage if you are targeted by car hackers.

Key Takeaways

  • It is possible for a hacker to remotely take control of your vehicle, although automobile cyberattacks like these are uncommon.
  • Other vehicle-related cybersecurity concerns include dishonest mechanics sabotaging your car’s computer system, nearby hackers hijacking your key fob signal or planting tracking devices in your car, a charging station hack preventing you from charging your EV and malware being installed through MP3 files or apps downloaded to car infotainment systems.
  • Steps you could take to protect your vehicle from cybercriminals include regularly checking for software updates, storing your keys in a Faraday bag, thoroughly researching new mechanics, concealing your VIN and unplugging devices from your OBD-II port when you’re not driving.
  • Even if your car has been hacked, you could limit the amount of damage the hacker could cause by protecting your phone and other devices with strong passwords and clearing any location data stored on your GPS.
  • Personal full coverage auto insurance policies generally don’t include hacking coverage but should still cover accidents and vehicle thefts caused by cyberattacks.

Is Car Hacking Common?

Car hacking is relatively rare but is on the rise. While there were 75 automobile cybersecurity incidents around the world in 2018, the number of incidents rose to over 240 in 2021.[1] As a point of comparison, there were 39,508 deadly car crashes in the United States alone in 2021, meaning you are significantly less likely to be the subject of a car hack than a car accident.[2]

What Types of Cars Do Hackers Target?

A 2020 report found that Teslas were more prone to hacking than any other type of vehicle. In addition, the report analyzed the following 10 popular models and found that all of them had wireless online connections to critical safety systems with no way for the vehicles to be disconnected, making them potentially vulnerable to hackers:[3]

  • Ford F-150
  • Dodge Ram 1500
  • Chevy Silverado
  • Toyota Rav 4
  • Honda CRV
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Toyota Camry
  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota Corolla

In general, hackers could target any car with systems that are connected to the internet. The more high-tech a vehicle is, the greater its exposure to hacking may be, which means owners of electric vehicles (EVs) and cars with automated driving features may need to be especially wary.

How Do Cars Get Hacked?

See below for an overview of some of the major ways a hacker could gain access to your car and what risks you could face if you are the victim of car hacking.

Remote Software Hacks

In 2015, security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated the possibility of developing a code that could give hackers wireless control of a Jeep Cherokee. By hacking into the car, they were able to remotely control its air conditioning system, radio, windshield wipers, digital display, GPS, transmission, engine, brakes and, to a limited degree, steering wheel. Because of the Jeep Cherokee’s Uconnect internet feature, anyone with the car’s IP address could gain access to it from anywhere in the country.[4]

Ultimately, Miller and Valasek had no malicious intent as they shared their research with Chrysler, enabling the company to release a patch addressing the car’s cybersecurity issues. Nevertheless, their research highlighted the extent of damage a bad actor could potentially cause by remotely hacking into a vehicle.[4] More recently, web security researcher Sam Curry discovered that, in some cases, a hacker would only need to know a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to take it over remotely.[5]

On-Premises Software Hacks

Alternatively, you could be hacked by an unscrupulous mechanic who has physical access to your car’s computer system. For example, a mechanic could inject malware into your Controller Area Network (CAN bus) by plugging a device into your car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) port, potentially causing your vehicle to function poorly and prompting you to return to the mechanic more frequently to have your car fixed.

Key Fobs

There are various devices that can enable hackers to either copy or redirect the signal from your key fob, enabling them to unlock and steal your car without physically having access to your keys. That said, the hacker will generally need to be in somewhat close proximity to both you and your vehicle, meaning this type of hack may be less of a threat than a remote software hack.[6]

MP3 Malware

It’s possible for a hacker to add malware that can alter a car’s firmware to an MP3 file, burn that file onto a CD and then gain access to various components of a car after someone puts the compromised CD into their car’s CD player.[7] As a result, you should avoid putting a CD into your CD player if you are unsure of the CD’s origins.

Data Downloads

A hacker could also gain access to your car through malware installed by a malicious app you download to your car’s infotainment system.

Once a hacker has access to your vehicle, they could download sensitive data that your vehicle stores such as your location and driving history.

In addition, if you have connected your phone to your vehicle’s infotainment system via Bluetooth, a hacker could even access data from your phone that is now being stored on the car’s computer system such as your contacts and messages.

EV Charging Stations

A type of cyberattack known as the Brokenwire attack can disrupt the connection between your EV and a public charging station. While this shouldn’t cause any damage to your vehicle, you could still risk being stranded at a charging station without enough electricity to get back on the road.[8]

Tracking Devices

Finally, someone could potentially track your location by hacking into a telematics device plugged into your OBD-II port. While less sophisticated, physical tracking devices could similarly be planted on your vehicle or hidden within it so that a malicious actor can track your location.

What Should I Do if I’m a Victim of Car Hacking?

It is recommended that you contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office closest to you along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and your car’s manufacturer or authorized dealer if you suspect that your car has been hacked. You should also check for software updates or recalls to make sure your car is safer going forward.[9]

Other steps you could take include changing passwords to preempt hackers from accessing more of your data, monitoring your bank accounts and credit score so you will know if a hacker has already gained access to and started using your financial information and checking to see if anything has been physically stolen from your vehicle.

How Do I Keep My Car From Being Hacked?

You can take steps like these to lower the odds that you will be victimized by a car hacker or mitigate the impact of a potential car hack:

  1. Check for manufacturer updates: Keep abreast of available patches for your car’s software or recalls issued by the manufacturer to address security concerns. While you may be able to download a software update digitally, your car could require a physical fix. For example, Jeep Cherokee owners could only get the patch that followed Miller and Valasek’s research in 2015 by obtaining a USB drive from Chrysler or visiting a dealership mechanic.[4]
  2. Keep your key fob in a Faraday bag: When you aren’t actively driving, you can store your keys in a Faraday bag, which is made of a metallic fabric that blocks electromagnetic fields and can prevent your key fob’s signal from being intercepted.[6]
  3. Research mechanics before you go to them: Be careful about taking your car to be repaired by a mechanic you don’t know anything about. Consider asking friends and neighbors about the mechanic or researching them online so you can verify that they are legitimate and are unlikely to install malware onto your vehicle’s computer system.
  4. Cover your VIN: To prevent someone from hacking into your car by obtaining your VIN, you could cover your VIN with tape anywhere it appears on your vehicle such as the driver’s side door jamb.
  5. Don’t save addresses in your car’s built-in GPS: While it may be convenient to store your home, work or school address in your car’s GPS, you risk giving a hacker that gains access to your vehicle’s data precise information about where to find you at any given moment.
  6. Use strong passwords for devices connected to your car: Even if a hacker does manage to hack into your vehicle, you could prevent them from obtaining your most sensitive data by protecting your phone and other devices connected to your car with hard-to-crack passwords.
  7. Unplug devices from your OBD-II port when you aren’t driving: Removing devices from your OBD-II port removes a potential entry point that hackers could use to gain control of your vehicle. However, you should be sure to plug a telematics device back in before you start driving again. Otherwise, you could be accused of misleading your insurance company and could face the forfeiture of your car insurance discount or the cancellation of your to protect your vehicle from car hackers

Does Car Insurance Cover Car Hacking?

Some insurers may offer commercial auto hacking insurance but a personal car insurance policy is unlikely to directly cover hacking-related expenses.[10] Nevertheless, some of the coverage types included in a standard private passenger auto policy could provide some coverage for damages that arise due to a cyberattack.

For example, your liability coverage, collision insurance and medical payments coverage or personal injury protection (PIP) should kick in to cover property repairs and medical expenses if you are involved in a car accident on account of a hack. Meanwhile, your comprehensive insurance should cover vehicle thefts committed by hackers. However, if any individual items have been stolen from your car, these should be covered by your homeowners insurance instead.

Buy Car Insurance With Comprehensive Coverage


How often do cars get hacked?

There were around 165 times as many fatal car accidents in the United States as there were car hacks throughout the entire world in 2021, suggesting that auto cybersecurity incidents are fairly uncommon.[1][2]

What might happen if my car gets hacked?

If your car gets hacked, the hacker could potentially take control of your vehicle, track your location, access sensitive data connected to your vehicle’s computer system, inhibit your car’s ability to function properly and more.

How do I know if my car has been hacked?

Signs that your car may have been hacked include losing control of certain aspects of the vehicle, discovering unauthorized logins to your phone and other accounts, noticing your car is unlocked when you remember locking it and being unable to properly charge your EV at a public charging station.


  1. Upstream. “2022 Global Automotive Cybersecurity Report.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Fatality Facts 2021 State by State.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  3. Consumer Watchdog. “Connected Car Report 2020: The Models Most Open to Hacks,” Pages 4-14. Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  4. WIRED. “Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  5. Sam Curry. “Web Hackers vs. The Auto Industry: Critical Vulnerabilities in Ferrari, BMW, Rolls Royce, Porsche and More.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  6. Sure Lock & Key. “Can a Car Key Fob Be Hacked.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  7. Schneier on Security. “Hacking Cars With MP3 Files.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  8. AAA Club Alliance. “Can Electric Cars Be Hacked?” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  9. Internet Crime Complaint Center. “Motor Vehicles Increasingly Vulnerable to Remote Exploits.” Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
  10. National Underwriter Resource Center. “Auto Hacking Expense Coverage,” Page 1. Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.

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