Warning on threat of the ‘Connected Vehicle Thief’

connected car thiefThe nature of auto theft is changing with the emergence of sophisticated connected vehicle and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.  The FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report showed that auto theft in the United States  in the first half of 2015 increased compared to the first half of 2014. With more sophisticated vehicles on the road, criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics in order to steal these vehicles. LoJack, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CalAmp  and a leader in vehicle theft recovery has now launched a campaign as part of National Vehicle Theft Protection Month in July to raise awareness of the Connected Vehicle Thief.

“Vehicle theft is starting to shift because of advanced techniques introduced by the Connected Vehicle Thief,” said Patrick Clancy, VP of LoJack Law Enforcement  in Canton, Mass. and Irvine, Calif. “These criminals are smart, connected and more difficult to impede. They are targeting not only vehicles but also on-board data that once obtained, can be damaging and difficult to recover. This campaign is designed to educate vehicle owners and businesses about the changing nature of auto theft, who the adversaries are and what can be done to remain vigilant so that their lives are not negatively impacted by theft.”

As part of July’s National Vehicle Theft Protection Month, LoJack has released an infographic that provides tips for consumers and profiles the methods and tactics used by the Connected Vehicle Thief, including:

  • CAR CLONING: Savvy thieves create and install a fake vehicle identification number (VIN), allowing a stolen vehicle to go unnoticed. Hackers then use the stolen VINs to create false new documents, hiding the fact that the underlying vehicle is stolen.
  • VEHICLE RANSOM: Cybercriminals could leverage ransomware to break into a vehicle, disable the engine and brakes, and demand payment to restore the car to its functional state.
  • SCANNER BOXES: These are devices that can exploit an electronic system utilized by key fobs. Criminals can then unlock, and even start, a vehicle without even touching the key.
  • IDENTITY THEFT: Thieves are targeting the data available within the car, including credit card details, location information, Social Security Numbers and drivers license numbers.
  • LUXURY VEHICLE THEFT RINGS: Organized crime rings target higher value vehicles, which can then be cut up for parts, re-sold or shipped overseas. These theft rings utilize complex schemes, such as copying smart keys and using stolen credit reports to illegally finance vehicles.

To protect against the Connected Vehicle Thief, LoJack recommends the following safety tips:

  • BE SELECTIVE WITH SENSITIVE DATA: Be aware that personal data stored in your vehicle, such as your credit card information or home address in an on-board GPS system, could be vulnerable to theft.
  • UPDATE MANUFACTURER SOFTWARE: Download the latest firmware and software upgrades from the vehicle manufacturer as they become available. Ask about updates when visiting the service department of your dealership.
  • STAY INFORMED OF RECALLS: Stay abreast of vehicle-enabled cyberattacks, and check with your car manufacturer about any security recalls or alerts.
  • USE THEFT PREVENTION PRODUCTS: Immobilizers and visible, audible warning devices are good deterrents and can provide advanced protection.
  • INSTALL A TRACKING DEVICE: Consider installing a tracking device operated by law enforcement so that stolen assets have a better chance of being recovered.
  • KEEP YOUR ASSETS CLOSE: Do not leave smart phones and tablets unattended as they can be used to access more data, putting the owner at even more risk. Use proper safety protocols with ever-increasing keyless ignitions.
  • PRACTICE COMMON SENSE: Never leave keys in the vehicle with the engine running, don’t hide a spare key in the car, and lock all doors when exiting the vehicle. It seems obvious, but car owners are still victimized by not taking these basic safety precautions. – PRNewswire

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