Cars today are much more than means of travel. For many a car is both a way to get to point A and B and also a technological marvel that offers a multitude of features and amenities to their liking. Despite the benefits and beauty of modern high tech cars, there are many dangers and things to be aware of also. One of the biggest items that vehicle owners need to be wary of is how their cars can use their personal data through Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio waves and frequencies to share data over a short distance. This ability is known to make life easier as it eliminates the need for wires.
Bluetooth is used in cars for pairing mobile phones with the central command center in order to use car and phone functions hands free. This makes it easier in a car to have phone calls and signal commands as well.
Bluetooth Works With Buddies
Bluetooth technology must be paired with your smartphone device. This pairing works as a linking between your mobile device to the Bluetooth system granting approval for your phone to send signals and remote operate. Once the pairing has been completed the system will recognize the device and will connect automatically.
Bluetooth does not use cellular data. So if you are in a remote area with little to no cellular service you can still pair your phone to your car via Bluetooth.
Delightful Yet Dangerous
While Bluetooth in many ways makes life easier in your car there are some huge areas of concern with the technology as well. For many, the reality of their data being stored in their car is oblivious to them and they do not understand the impact it can have for them.
However data that is left around, can be accessed and used by others for nefarious purposes.
Bluetooth Collects Data
Bluetooth does not use cellular data but it does collect data. The data collected by Bluetooth includes:
- Mobile phone/device Name
- GPS history
- Call logs and text messages
- In car search history
- Music streaming login information
Why Is My Car Collecting My Data?
The reason your car is collecting data is because it is linked to your smartphone via Bluetooth and is able to wirelessly access all passwords, and key login information of the apps and phone programs used while connected through your car with Bluetooth. So this means for apps like Spotify, Netflix, and even for a home address, once the data is entered into your car through the Bluetooth pairing it will be saved.
The reason that after you pair your phone once, it remembers your information is due to convenience. This makes it easier next time you hop in as you will not have to log in again in order to use their apps.
This is a great convenience although if left unattended it can be disastrous. Through accessing your car’s data you can be found in a variety of scams, catfishing, and identity theft pursuits.
How Data Gets Leaked
For those who own their vehicle, your personal data stored in your car is still at risk but it is relatively safe if you are the only one driving and accessing your vehicle. The bigger risk and opportunity for data collection comes to those who are using vehicles temporarily.
For drivers who rent cars for vacation, and rent cars for work you are at a higher risk for your data being stolen through car Bluetooth. The reason is due to your data being stored in a vehicle’s computer system. Most car rental companies do not wipe the data that is input and collected in their cars. So after renting a car and using Bluetooth, a driver has now left valuable information within the car that others behind them will get in and be able to access.
Likewise for those who own their vehicles and decide to sell them you will need to be careful as well. Commonly when a used vehicle is sold from person to person the seller will forget to wipe their data from their vehicle, leaving it open and available to the new buyer.
How to Protect Your Personal Data
For those who have your car paired with your phone via Bluetooth and use your car as your daily driver you can relax. Be careful about what data you allow on your car. Things like Spotify and audiobooks are good, but you may want to avoid pairing your car with your credit and debit cards. If you are the primary driver and operator of your vehicle pay attention to what you are linking and you should be fine.
Renters who are temporarily using a vehicle need to avoid entering data. It is not worth it to enter in valuable information for a short period of use for a vehicle and have it stolen later if you forget to delete it.
If you plan to sell or trade your vehicle away just make sure to clear out all of the information and personal data from your Bluetooth pairing.
How to Delete Data
For those who are selling or trading their car away you can delete your personal data through the following ways:
- Factory reset: Check your manual and research this for your car model to see if you can do a hard reset to your system to clear out all the data in one shot.
- Delete all addresses in your navigation system.
- Clear out the numbers in the online phonebook.
- Clear and remove the passwords to all apps.
Can I Get Protection for My Data?
While regular car companies do not cover technology such as Bluetooth, one option to consider may be getting an extended warranty. An extended warranty from CarShield for example can provide coverage to your vehicle after your original warranty runs out. Evaluating whether an extended warranty is good for you and your car as you consider protection for your cars and the personal data within it is a great option to consider.