The dangers of connecting phones to connected cars

As smart, connected cars get more ubiquitous, they are often the only option you get when renting a car from a rental agency. With all the reports about car hacking, you might be worried whether someone could manipulate the vehicle you’re renting, but in the real world, that danger still seems far off.

dangers connecting phones cars

A more near and present danger is that of inadvertently sharing your personal data with the car, and therefore with its owners (at a minimum).

“When you use the car’s infotainment system, it may store personal information. It may keep locations you entered in GPS or visited when travelling in the rental car – like where you work or live,” Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, an attorney with the US Federal Trade Commission, explains.

“If you connect a mobile device, the car may also keep your mobile phone number, call and message logs, or even contacts and text messages. Unless you delete that data before you return the car, other people may view it, including future renters and rental car employees or even hackers.”

She advises users to be careful which access permissions they grant to the infotainment system when they plug in their mobile device in it, and to charge their devices through the car’s cigarette lighter adapter instead of the infotainment system if they want to avoid all contact between the two.

She also says it’s a good idea to delete your data from the infotainment system before returning the car.

“Go into the infotainment system’s settings menu to find a list of devices that have been paired with the system. Locate your device and follow the prompts to delete it,” she instructs.

I would add: remember to do the same if you’re selling your own car.

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