8 min read

Gone in 60 Seconds: A Deep Dive into the Techniques of Automotive Hackers

In recent years, news out of the automotive world has largely revolved around the rise of connected cars. The increasing use of software and computer systems in modern vehicles has opened up a new realm of cybercrime: vehicle data hacking. Hackers can now exploit software vulnerabilities, manipulate wireless signals, or even physically access a vehicle to gain control of critical systems, thereby putting the driver and passengers at risk. This blog will explore the motives behind vehicle data hacking, what these individuals gain from it, and their techniques.

The Rise of Connected Cars

In recent years, vehicles have become increasingly connected, with many sensors and computer systems embedded in them. These systems gather and transmit vast amounts of data, from engine performance to driver behaviour, which is being used to improve the driving experience for customers. However, this trend has also opened up a new realm of cybercrime, where hackers can exploit these systems to access critical data. This data can be valuable for cybercriminals, who can use it for various purposes, including identity theft, financial fraud, and other malicious activities. As the number of connected cars on the road continues to increase, so does the risk of cyberattacks on these vehicles. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that proper security measures are in place to protect the sensitive data these systems gather and transmit. Data protection is a critical aspect of connected car technology, and automakers and other stakeholders in the industry must invest in developing robust security protocols to safeguard this data.

Why is vehicle data collected in the first place?

  1. Maintenance and repairs: Vehicle data can be used by mechanics to diagnose problems and determine the best course of action for repairs.

  2. Performance analysis: Vehicle data can be used to analyze the performance of a vehicle, including fuel efficiency, speed, and acceleration.

  3. Safety features: Vehicle data can be used to activate safety features such as airbags and stability control.

  4. Navigation: Vehicle data can be used for navigation purposes, such as providing directions and calculating optimal routes.

  5. Insurance: Vehicle data can be used by insurance companies to calculate premiums based on factors such as driving habits and accident history.

  6. Telematics: Vehicle data can be used by telematics systems to provide information on driving behaviour, vehicle location, and vehicle performance.

  7. Research and development: Vehicle data can be used by researchers and engineers to develop new technologies and improve vehicle design.

  8. Fleet management: Vehicle data can be used by fleet managers to track vehicle usage, schedule maintenance, and optimize routes.

Overall, vehicle data can be used to improve vehicle performance, safety, and efficiency, as well as provide valuable insights for various industries and applications.

Vehicle Data Hacking Techniques

Hackers have developed various techniques to gain access to data. These include exploiting software vulnerabilities, manipulating wireless signals, and physically accessing the vehicle's systems. They can then gain control of the critical systems, including the brakes, steering, and engine, which puts the driver and passengers at risk.

Motivations of Vehicle Data Hackers

There are various motivations behind data hacking. Some data criminals do it for financial gain, stealing personal information from connected vehicles and selling it on the dark web. Some parties may participate in vehicle data hacking in order to gain access to sensitive personal information to sell or use for various nefarious reasons. 
  1. Financial gain: Hackers could attempt to steal sensitive financial data stored in a vehicle's computer systems, such as credit card information or banking details.

  2. Malicious intent: Some individuals may seek to cause harm by hacking into a vehicle's computer systems, such as remotely disabling the brakes or steering.

  3. Espionage: Hackers could be interested in obtaining valuable information about a company's upcoming products or technology, which could be stored in a vehicle's computer systems.

  4. Personal gain: Hackers could attempt to gain access to personal information stored in a vehicle, such as location data or contact information.

  5. Research purposes: Some security researchers may attempt to hack into vehicle systems to identify vulnerabilities and help improve security measures.

Data Protection and Vehicle Data Privacy

As the use of connected cars increases, protecting the data they generate becomes more critical than ever. Vehicle manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that the data they collect is secure and protected from cyber-attacks. Governments have also started to recognize the importance of data protection in this context and have began working to introduce laws and regulations to ensure that data privacy is safeguarded. American company Privacy4Cars, the first and only technology company focused on identifying and resolving data privacy issues across the automotive ecosystem. Their mission, Driving Privacy, means offering a suite of services to expand protections for individuals and companies alike, by focusing on privacy, safety, security, and compliance. They have recently partnered with HeyAuto, to bring Canadian dealers and consumers the ultimate coverage when it comes to vehicle data privacy. Read more about it here

Data breaches in connected vehicles can have severe consequences, from losing personal information to manipulating critical vehicle systems. The implications of such a data breach are significant in taking steps to prevent them from occurring is essential.

What are their techniques?

Vehicle data criminals use various techniques to access a vehicle's systems. One of the most common methods is exploiting vulnerabilities in the software that controls the vehicle's systems. This can involve finding and exploiting bugs in the code or taking advantage of poorly secured communication channels. Data Criminals can also gain physical access to the vehicle and connect directly to its systems. This can be done by accessing the onboard diagnostic port or physically tampering with the vehicle's hardware. Once they have gained access to a vehicle's system, criminals can use various techniques to carry out their actions. They may install malware or spyware to monitor and control the vehicle's systems or manipulate wireless signals to take control of the vehicle's functions remotely. The benefits of data hacking depend on the motivation behind the attack. A financially motivated criminal can profit from the sale of personal information.


In conclusion, vehicle data hacking is a serious issue that poses a significant threat to both individuals and organizations. Hackers can access vehicle data through a variety of means, including physical access, wireless access, remote access, malware, and phishing attacks. The motivations behind vehicle data hacking can range from financial gain and malicious intent to espionage and personal gain. However, it is important to note that accessing vehicle data without authorization is illegal and can have serious consequences. Vehicle manufacturers and technology companies are continuously working to improve security measures to prevent unauthorized access and protect vehicle data. It is important for individuals and organizations to take proactive measures to secure their vehicles and protect their data from potential threats.