Tag Archives: Progressive Insurance Snapshot

Car Hacking is Real!


2016 BMW 7 Series Sedan

As you know cars are more and more reliant on technology. Internet connected cars provide everything from GPS directions, to entertainment to monitoring how well you and your engine are performing. And anything connected to the Internet can be hacked.

Recently the FBI issued a public service announcement warning  that cars are increasingly vulnerable to hackers and are encouraging victims to report incidents. The warning  was issued jointly with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and cautioned consumers and manufacturers to be aware of the risks of car hacking.

 Car hacking is real!  In July of 2015 a group of researcher demonstrated how  they could take control of a vehicle including braking and steering while it was traveling at 70 MPH.

Technological advancements in cars are simply amazing. On board computers control numerous vehicle functions including steering, braking, acceleration, lights and windshield wipers.  Cars also have wireless capability, including smartphone and  Bluetooth syncing,  keyless entry, ignition control, tire pressure monitoring, and diagnostic, navigation and entertainment systems; all vulnerable to hackers.  Many new cars offer autonomous systems for emergency braking and even steering. The new BMW 7 Series sedan allows the driver to release the steering wheel for up to 15 seconds. Audi  is offering a car that can drive in traffic jams and even find a parking space and park itself without the driver even being present. Not in the future, TODAY!

The FBI warned car owners that wireless vulnerabilities could be introduced by third-party aftermarket devices often used by insurance companies to monitor drivers. Devices likProgressive Insurance’s Snapshot come with Internet or cellular access and plug into your car’s diagnostics ports. These devices are an open gateway to automobile control systems.

The FBI and NHTSA urge consumers and manufacturers to take action to minimize the vehicular cyber security threats related to vehicle technologies.

Consumers are urged to maintain awareness of the latest recalls and updates affecting their vehicles. But criminals are also aware of these updates and it is possible criminals may exploit this delivery method. The FBI has warned that online manufacturer updates are vulnerable. Hackers using social engineering tricks could send an email messages to vehicle owners searching for legitimate software updates. These messages could trick them into clicking on links to malicious websites, opening attachments containing malware, or installing malware from USB drives. To minimize the potential risks vehicle owners should always verify any recall notices received, check on the vehicle manufacturer’s website to verify to if any software updates have actually been issued. Owners are warned to avoid downloading software from third-party websites, and use only trusted USB drives.

Is your car vulnerable? There is a list of the most hackable cars on the road available.

Breaking It Down

Cars have changed. All those wonderful luxuries you enjoy in your new car come at price that is a bit more than money. Hackers are not likely to take over your car trying to kill you. That is possible but not likely. But there is the danger of some childish asshole hacking cars for fun and creating a situation where someone  could get hurt or killed. It’s more likely a hacker will hack your keyless entry system to unlock your car to steal it or something out of it.  They could also potentially disable your car the same way they disable a computer and force you to pay to get your car back. It will probably happen and may already have.

When buying a new car with all the cool new technology you need to sit down with your salesperson and have a nice long conversation about your car’s security features. Make sure you understand how software upgrades are handled. Make sure you also understand how those driver monitoring things from the insurance company works. Another vulnerability you need to look out for is connecting your smartphone to your car via Bluetooth. Everybody has a few apps on their phones. Apps carry malware and one of those apps may interact with your car in ways you were not expecting.

The bottom line is you need to understand more about your car than just keeping it on the road and operating the stereo and air conditioning. Those days are long gone. When shopping for a car do your research and know what technology you are getting and how secure it is. 

Teen Driving Worries? There’s an App for That

canstockphoto22566500Any parent will tell you their greatest fear is the day their child gets behind the wheel for the first time.  Their child is moving beyond their control and watchful eye. They are entering the jungle called life and the open road. They are driving. Fortunately there is technology and apps for that.

For parents, especially African-American parents, driving opens a terrifying stage in their child’s life. An encounter with the wrong police officer can be deadly. For those fears black parents with teen drivers, and themselves, there is the Driving While Black app. This app educates and prepares them and their child to survive encounters with police officers. It provides tools that allows them to document the encounter for later reference, immediately notify parents if they are stopped and legal information. Driving while black should not be a lethal task but we know it happens.

But we also know how teens tend to behave in a reckless manner and suffer from basic inexperience on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 16 to 19-year-olds are nearly three times more likely to have an accident than drivers ages 20 and over. In the U.S. most teens dream of the day they begin to drive. And eventually they will want a car of their own. So the IIHS offers this list of safest used cars for teens.

But as long as they are driving mom and dad’s car parents will want to monitor and educate their child about driving. Now General Motors is offering a new way for parents to track their child’s behavior behind the wheel.

GM’s new product, “Teen Driver,” and will be available in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.

Parents can program “Teen Driver”  to track how far their teen has driven,  how fast they drive, record any speed warnings issued during a drive, stability control events, anti-lock brake events, forward collision alerts and forward-collision braking events if the vehicle is equipped with that option.

To activate Teen Driver parents unlock the feature by creating a PIN in the “settings” menu of their available MyLink system. This then allows them to register their teen’s key fob. The system only records when that key fob is in use.

To download and review the full report parents just enter a password on MyLink. This tool can used to help a teen polish their driving skills. Parents could also spot potentially troubling behavior such as speeding and sudden hard braking.

But many parents can’t wait or afford a brand new 2016 Malibu. For those parents there are options available now.

If you currently own a late model GM car there is the OnStar emergency communications system. This service can locate their car on a map using GPS. OnStar will also inform the owner when the vehicle has an airbag deployment.

Ford Motor Company sponsors the RoadReady app. The app is an extension of The Parent’s Supervised Driving ProgramThe RoadReady app allows parents to track and log driving habits during their child’s learner’s permit process and is available on Apple devices.

Travelers Insurance offers IntelliDrive a plug-in device that records driving behaviors. Parents can see  the location and driving history of their teen. Parents get a weekly report on their teenagers driving habits that include speed, acceleration, braking, and driving hours. Most importantly parents will be alerted via text or email of unusual activity such as when their child goes beyond set boundaries. The technology is limited and is only available in several states.

Progressive Insurance Snapshot is also plug-in device that records driver behavior such as acceleration and braking as well as daily miles driven and the time of day the driving takes place. Progressive does not market the device as a way to monitor teens but it could certainly be used that way. But there are a few things you need to know about Snapshot.

Cellcontrol blocks your teenagers cell phone while driving. If someone tries to tamper with the device  it sends a text or email alert to a designated administrator. Cellcontrol is currently available on BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Mobile 5 and 6.

Parents can learn about other technology for monitoring their teens driving habits by visiting these sites.

USA Today: Apps Etc. Monitor Teen Drivers

Consumer Reports: How to Track Your Teen Drivers

Now you know