Is Your BMW At Risk From Hacker Thieves?

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The next time you go into the BMW repair shop for maintenance or repairs, you may want to check on another important upgrade that could seriously affect your car's security. According to BMW, cars that come equipped with the Connected Drive remote-services system are vulnerable to hackers, who can remotely access your BMW and gain access to your vehicle. Fortunately, there is a security patch being pushed to vulnerable BMW automobiles, but you may still be wondering if your BMW is at risk from hacker thieves.

Remote Access

The biggest worry for BMW owners whose cars is at risk is the fact that hackers can gain access to each vehicle remotely, using telematics systems that can be accessed from outside the car, and that communicate with parts of the vehicle directly, potentially allowing thieves to unlock a car from some distance away, start the engine, and give thieves the unlimited access needed to drive away with your automobile in mere seconds.

In addition to allowing thieves to gain access to the vehicle, the telematics system could be hacked to provide cyber criminals with access to key safety systems like brakes and air bags. This high-tech crime is chilling to consider, especially as it leaves the car's driver vulnerable at any time, in any place.

Not Yet A Widespread Problem

The problem was actually discovered by security researchers working on behalf of BMW, so there's been no confirmed cases of this type of crime actually occurring, yet. But, the potential is there, and should the ability to gain remote access to vehicles prove lucrative, thieves would likely jump at the opportunity. Each vehicle would require independent access, so there's currently no worry about entire fleets of BMW's being accessed at once. 

Also, the ability to hack a sophisticated computer system isn't a typical tool in most car thieves' skill sets, so it's likely to be less common than most people think. Still, the opportunity is there, at least until BMW has a confirmed security solution that can prevent unauthorized access to the vehicles. 

This type of cyber attack isn't actually a new problem, since it's been shown since 2010 that the telematics systems of many different cars, not just BMWs, are at risk. The problem lies in the fact that criminals are getting smarter, and the systems used to keep cars secure aren't keeping pace with the thieves. It also opens up a scary host of possible uses that terrorists could find for your car. 

BMW Staying On Top Of Things

Ultimately, it's the car manufacturers who are going to be responsible for keeping these car systems secure, and fortunately, BMW seems to be on top of things. They've already been investigating ways to improve the security of the cars' systems, including creating and distributing an over-the-airwaves security patch that will prevent access to the locking system on their cars. But, while that one problem may be "fixed," there are bound to be new issues as criminals get smarter with their technology.

One positive thing that seems to be coming from the hacks on BMW vehicles is the discussion and review of all automobile security issues, not just the ones affecting the elite automobile manufacturer. If all car-makers spend more time and money trying to predict potential security issues with their vehicles, the industry can make it harder for thieves to target cars using computer technology. 

What does this mean for you, as a BMW owner? At the moment, there's not a lot to worry about, but it's definitely a good idea to keep up-to-date on any upgrades or service updates that your BMW dealer provides. It will likely take time, and a complete overhaul of the cars' internal operating systems, to truly sort out the security flaws, so BMW owners will just have to wait and see what the car company does about the problem in the future.

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