The upside to modern, sensor-filled cars is that they are easier to use, safer, smarter, and boast far more functionality than the vehicles of previous decades. One of the downsides is that, just like any other computer, they are open to hacking.
This risk was especially salient recently for German car manufacturer BMW. A flaw discovered in 2.2 million its vehicles—including Rolls-Royce, Mini, and BMW models—made them extra-vulnerable to break-ins. The problem was related to the cars’ ConnectedDrive technology, which allows drivers to use a smartphone to control car functions such as air conditioning, traffic information, raising and lowering the windows, or unlocking the doors.
BMW says that it has fixed the fault with an automatic update, meaning that customers don’t need to take any action themselves.
Although no one was reportedly affected by the flaw, the news comes the same week that the Federal Trade Commission warned that manufacturers of Internet-enabled devices were unprepared to handle their privacy risks and potentially open up users to damaging data hacks.
While hacking is a danger at the best of times, as more and more of our lives revolve around connected devices—be they vehicles, medical devices, or home appliances—security precautions become more crucial than ever.