Beware when synching your phone in a car – particularly a rental car!

25 Mar

Imagine finding out that your house has been burgled and that the burglar used your alarm pin code. Imagine learning that your sensitive credit card details have been intercepted by a third party and used for fraudulent online purchases, or even worse – the personal information of your family. These are just a few ways in which a hacker can use the convenience of your car phone synching against you.

For many people, synching their phone each time they get into the car is as automatic as checking their email every time they log in to a computer. It makes it easy to read messages and emails, make phone calls, and use the maps app, hands-free.

The problem comes when you disconnect your phone from the system. Some of your data stays behind!

A hacker can connect to your infotainment system or Bluetooth and have access to all the sensitive information left behind.

When you sync your phone to a rental car, the risks are only exacerbated. Unless you make an effort to delete the data from the system, access to your call list, GPS data, messages, and contacts could still be available to the next person to rent the car. Frightening, isn’t it?

How to protect your personal data

The first and most effective way to protect your data is to simply never sync your phone with the car (or rental car), or to avoid plugging your device into any of the USB ports. But this isn’t always doable, especially when the urge to have all your media at your fingertips while driving can prove rather tempting. Here are a few alternative ways to protect your data:

  • Set your phone’s security settings to limit what information and data the vehicle will have access to.
  • When you disconnect your phone from the car, make sure you take all the data with you by deleting it from the vehicle’s infotainment system.
  • Change all of your sensitive app passwords. A better way to protect access to sensitive apps is to activate fingerprint or Touch ID on your phone.
  • Turn off your car’s Bluetooth connectivity when you disconnect your device or when it’s not in use.

If you haven’t thought of it before, you should be thinking about it now – synching your phone to any vehicle is a risky thing to do. And if you are using a hire car, it’s ten times riskier! Protect yourself and your date by being aware. After all, you wouldn’t leave your wallet or luggage behind when you return your rental – so why leave your data!

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