Bluetooth in your car could leave you vulnerable to hackers

The Bluetooth system for music and navigation in your car could leave you open to hackers. (Photo: CBS Austin)

(KEYE) -- Car infotainment systems are nearly standard in newer cars. They link to your phone and help with directions, hands free calling, and much more. However, these systems can be vulnerable to hackers.

The minute you connect you phone to your vehicle, you are potentially at risk, according to cyber security expert and CEO of the Anfield Group, Chris Humphreys.

"Most of the time, immediately it’s your contacts, phone numbers, and if you use them, apps when you're plugged into the system. That data stays behind," said Humphreys.

That data, everything from your home address to your phone book, is often stored permanently in your car and can be in the hands of an experienced hacker in seconds.

"Bluetooth is a great piece of technology, but it has some very dangerous capabilities if used nefariously," said Humphreys.

Paul Sowada uses his infotainment system every day on his hour and half commute to work.

"It is a little shocking,” said Sowada. “I have so much of my (information), like my contacts, and my home saved into the infotainment system. So, it certainly does give pause when you think about connecting a device."

The only completely fool proof method is to not pair your phone at all, but Humphreys believes that is impractical. Instead, he said it is important to know the risks and take proper precautions.

Never click on a pop up alert or ad if it looks unfamiliar. Also, always unpair your phone and turn off your Bluetooth when you leave your car, especially is your driving someone else's vehicle or a rental.

According to Humphreys, car manufacturers are generally more reactive when it comes to security. While the technology to secure your system exists, (for example: fingerprint passcodes in your smart phone) it is expensive.

However, last year, Tesla, Fiat Chrysler and GM established "bug bounty" programs to reward people who find and report security flaws in their cars' software.

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