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Beware of possible Car Hacking

Most new cars make it easy for you to connect to your phones and other devices. But there can be consequences if you're not careful.

Car salesman Alex Ledesma demonstrated the latest features in a 2018 Chevy SUV.

"A lot of stuff is coming more standard on the vehicles. It's not an option anymore," said Alex Ledesma.

Standard features include automatic lane shift sensors and cameras for safety.

"A lot of this stuff has been around for years, (but) now it's perfected and more précised where they know for sure it's going to work"

While these features can be helpful for drivers, they also give criminals an opening to hack into your car.

In 2016, Chrysler announced a recall for 1.4 million vehicles after hackers demonstrated their ability to remotely hijack a Jeep's digital systems over the internet.

It was the first major vehicle recall regarding car hacking, which prompted the FBI to conduct research.

The FBI found weak spots in cars that have an active cellular connection or built in WIFI.

Cars moving at speeds of 5 to 10 miles per hour are susceptible to having the following features hacked:

-Engine shutdown

-Disabled brakes

-Steering problems

These are the hackable features for cars at any speed.

-Door locks

-Turn signals

-Speed reader

-the radio, heater, air conditioner and GPS.

Luc Longpre is a cyber security expert at UTEP. He became familiar with car hacking in 2010.

"I think the first time I heard about it, it was a faculty at UT Austin who was part of a team of 10 people who succeeded in 2010 and 2011 to hack into some car computers."

Longpre says car manufacturers constantly come up with new features because of consumer demand.

"The more you add convenience and features, the more you have risk of vulnerability."

Longpre says to prevent future hackers, car manufacturers need to build those features separately.

“There's no reason why you use one computer to access the brakes and ignition and the entertainment. You should have two totally un-connected computers so that it will increase the security a lot,” Longpre said.

Many El Pasoans say they are aware technology within cars is evolving.

“Technology has come a long way so we should take precaution,” said Brooke Ortega.

But some were unaware about car hacking.

“There’s always new ways to hack. There’s not always just one way because there are different ways to hack,” said Carlos Lopez.

According to Driving.CA, an automotive news website, there are five ways to avoid getting your car hacked.

-don’t use remote keyless systems

-buy a cyber-lock for your onboard system

-avoid self-driving steering wheels

-don’t plug random USBs into your dashboard and...

-(put a) lock on your WIFI and Bluetooth systems with a passcode

There's no perfect way to prepare for hackers. Which makes it more important to do your research before buying a new car.

“The first thing is you definitely need to ask the salesperson about all of those worries so that if enough people worry about it then they will react and be more careful about it," Longpre said.

Cyber experts say if you are a victim of car hacking, you should contact your car manufacturer and law enforcement.

They also say car hacking may not be a big deal now, but as car manufactures continue adding new technology to your cars, it will give hackers more opportunity.

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