Your car may be tracking your every move. And why that's a big worry

As if often unlimited and unrestricted access to everything about you to smartphones wasn't enough, modern-day cars are fast turning into potential surveillance epicenters with a tab on not just where its owner is taking it but even keeping a tab on in-car conversations, body health statistics and more. While automakers often blow trumpets about the technological advancements by them - and most is indeed to ease the comfort and convenience factors, it may also be true that you, dear car owners, are being monitored 24x7.

File photo for representational use.
File photo for representational use.

Almost every car out on global roads today comes fitted - either from the company itself or through after-market channels - with satellite-based navigation system. Want to explore a new city? No problem, let the car navigation be your guide. Want to check out the best eateries? Voice your wish and the car responds to the command. Some advanced models are even tracking your attention levels by monitoring how many times you bat your eyelids in a minute! Sounds awesome? Is awesome. Just that many are now also warning of intrusive in-car technology which may potentially store and share your personal data.

Data is the new gold

Going away are the days, even if gradually, when selling a car was the only way an auto company made money. In today's ever-evolving world, increasing number of brands want you to subscribe to a wide variety of services. Think of it like a Netflix subscription. You want the next level of navigation? There's a plan for that. Want the latest version of voice-based audio-visual in-car entertainment? Sure, just pay a monthly fee.

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But what is happening to all the data collected therein? Every single automotive company of any repute and scale would assure that data privacy is paramount and that 'special measures' are in place to protect individual information. Security experts have been warning for some time now about how the most advanced systems meant for protecting vehicle and personal data can still be hacked into. Irakli Beridze, Head of the Centre for AI and Robotics at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, is one such expert who even warned of artificial intelligence (AI) being potentially used for nefarious purposes. “As AI applications start to make a major real-world impact, it's becoming clear that this will be a fundamental technology for our future," he was quoted as saying by ZDNet. “However, just as the benefits to society of AI are very real, so is the threat of malicious use."

Phishing, ransomware and malware attacks too are potential risks that could target modern-day cars.

Pace of tech advancements inevitable?

Whether it is car-to-car, car-to-human or human-to-car communications, it is widely agreed that vehicle technologies will continue to hurl forward much like what has been observed in the world of smartphones, albeit at a comparatively slower pace. The market demands more and companies are only too willing to invest and indulge.

But problems such as the ongoing semiconductor shortage may also be rather unfortunate, taking a toll on supply and manufacturing processes. As for security risks, many feel it could just be something one has to make peace with.

First Published Date: 09 Jun 2022, 11:53 AM IST
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