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How personal data can be stolen from your car’s Bluetooth

November 29, 2016


 

 

Thousands of drivers are giving away personal information without even knowing it.

If you connect your smartphone to your car with Bluetooth, all of that personal information is suddenly at risk. 

“If someone ever got in my car, they could figure out everything about me, and that’s not something I ever thought about before,” said Patty Compton of Fort Myers.

When you connect your smartphone to your car with Bluetooth, the car saves your contacts and recent calls. In some newer models, it also keeps your text messages and GPS data.

All of that information is just sitting around for the next renter, buyer or thief to find.

Patty Compton, 19, uses her car’s Bluetooth because it’s easy and convenient.

“Contacts, music, everything that’s in my phone is in my car,” said Compton.

“If I got control of your car, do you think I could figure out a lot about you?” asked NBC2 Investigator Rachel Polansky. 

Compton said probably, adding ” That’s really scary because I don’t know you.”

That’s the point.

“When it comes to data, cars are just computers, so there’s no difference between your computer at your desk and the computer that sits in your car. They store data,” said Greg Scasny, CEO of Cybersecurity Defense Solutions.

We showed Scasny a car that’s shared by multiple NBC2 reporters.

We quickly learned that reporter Andrea connected her phone and never erased the data.

We could see her recent calls and all of her contacts.

“For Andrea, why is it dangerous that she left her call history?” asked NBC2 Investigator, Rachel Polansky.

“If we go in and start looking at contact details, we can find out more information. We can start profiling her about who she calls, who she talks to and what banks she banks with,” said Scasny.

If someone wanted to steal Andrea’s identity, Scasny said this would be a good starting point.

“Seeing a single phone number is probably not going to do much, but seeing a pattern of phone numbers does,” said Scasny.

Same rules apply when it comes to GPS.

Many newer cars save that data too. If someone was to steal your car and click

‘Home,’ they could figure out exactly where you live.

“That would be very scary. That concerns me,” said Anne LeBlenc of Fort Myers.

You can protect yourself by erasing your data. This is something you should always do before selling a car.

If you travel and rent cars, you should make sure you erase your data before returning the car.

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