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Green Car by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

Concentric Q×A

In the current age of digital technology, car owners are being forced to consider their vehicle’s susceptibility to ransomware attacks. These malicious cyber-attacks can expose your personal data to online hackers. However, there are certain measures that car owners can take to help prevent security breaches. Proactive car owners are utilizing services like Concentric to safeguard their technology and online identity. 360 Magazine spoke with Laura Hoffner, Chief of Staff at Concentric, and Sam Connour, Concentric Intern, about how to best practice car system security.

What steps can proactive car owners take to protect their vehicles from security threats and hackers?

First, understand that all digital property can be hacked.

Second, as a result, be conscious of what personal technology you connect to or tether with. Understand that if you connect your phone to your car via Bluetooth, someone hacking into your car will then result in vulnerability to your phone (and everything else connected to your phone such as your home Wi-Fi, addresses, credit cards.)

Third, ensure your vehicle’s software is up today. Car makers, like Tesla and Jeep, are known to push out patches for these potential holes hackers can access. Keeping your vehicle up to date will aid in that effort.

Finally, protect that vulnerability by being aware of the modifications you’re making to your vehicle’s software. Don’t let unknown devices connect to your car, and be wary of who has physical access to your vehicle

What makes a car susceptible to ransomware attacks?

Cars are now equal [in terms of susceptibility] to computers as a result of their connectivity capabilities both to the internet and to Bluetooth. If a car is connected to an insecure and unprotected internet connection, hackers are capable of installing malware into a vehicle’s operating or infotainment systems.

What models of cars are the most likely to encounter hacking/privacy issues?

Cars with self-driving capabilities, or features such as lane assist or automatic braking, are particularly at risk. But practically any vehicle made in the past 20 years can be hacked. Generally, vehicles [from] 2007 or newer run a higher risk of personal information being compromised. Car makers, with a warning from the FBI, are taking steps to beef up cybersecurity within their vehicles.

Should customers be weary of certain car brands when buying technology systems for their vehicles? How can consumers find quality retailers with safe car products?

Rather than it being a concern about specific car brands, consumers should instead educate themselves on the risk associated with these vulnerabilities and take proper protocol to mitigate those risks.

Can Concentric offer any services for car owners looking to safeguard their vehicles?

Concentric offers holistic security solutions for our clients. Included in that is a residential risk assessment that can identify specific concerns and vulnerabilities. This is where personal risk associated with property would be assessed, [as well as] physical and behavioral recommendations.

How did your experience as a Naval Intelligence Officer and in the Naval Reserves translate into your current role at Concentric?

Understanding the threat landscape both nationally and internationally– as well as the acknowledgement that we make both micro and macro decisions about risk daily– ultimately prepared me to understand the corporate security landscape. Holistically viewing a problem set and identifying creative solutions are [at] the core of Naval Intelligence, thus it wasn’t a large leap to bring that mindset over with me from the government side.

As Concentrics’ Chief of Staff, what is your best advice regarding car related security?

Car-related security advice is the same as all other security advice we have: educate yourself, your family, and your team to know what risk decisions you are making that have vast implications across your security vulnerability spectrum. Additionally, security is not something to think about when you’re in a crisis. Avoid or better prepare yourself for the crisis beforehand by taking steps to vastly reduce, or eliminate, your vulnerabilities to exploitation.