The UK used car market hit by data security issues
The issue of data security is one that’s impacting all kinds of businesses and individuals in all kinds of ways. This is the case now more than ever because of the way in which we share and rely on technology. A new problem that’s now becoming clear is that the UK used car market can be particularly susceptible to data breaches.
The potential for this kind of problem was always there but it’s only now that owners of used car companies and individual drivers are realising the potential size of the problem and its implications. A new survey has shone a light on this issue and the amount of people now affected by it due to the intersection of our cars, technology and our personal data.
The problem relates to the way in which drivers are now leaving lots of their sensitive personal data on their old cars and not wiping the information held on them. That information can be transferred to the storage systems that cars use by connecting smartphones and other electronic devices to them.
And when a driver comes to sell their car or trade it in at a car dealership, it doesn’t cross their mind to delete the data because many people either don’t realize or forget that it’s there at all.
These days, most people use Bluetooth or Custom USB drives in their vehicles. They can be used to play music, retrieve traffic or navigation details or make calls hands-free when behind the wheel. These practices have become the norm for drivers in recent years, but they could also be fuelling a data security problem that may end up having big consequences going forward.
Although most future owners won’t have any interest in accessing these personal details of the previous owner, there’s still a clear risk posed. By failing to wipe data from the vehicle, a car’s new owner might have access to details of the previous owner including phone numbers, addresses and wifi details, as well as many other types of data.
A recent survey was carried out by Which? and it found that more than half of people who sold their car in the past two years did not make any attempt to unsync their devices and 31% didn’t make any attempt to remove any personal data from the car before selling it. This suggests there’s a real problem brewing and data security problems will come to the fore in the years ahead in the UK’s used car market.
The study sought answers to these questions from 14,000 drivers, meaning that there was a fairly large sample size for a survey of this kind. It also found 79% of owners didn’t use the car’s manual to follow instructions regarding removing data to the car and returning it to its factory settings before selling it. That’s the advice that all car manufacturers give to owners, but it would seem the advice is being ignored.
Some feel that the problem is less to do with drivers not following advice though and more about car manufacturers not communicating their advice clearly enough to owners of their vehicles. More should be done to provide drivers with the information they need with regards to how their data is being used and what happens to it when they sync their smartphones and other devices to the vehicle. For many, that’s not currently very clear.
The importance of eradicating data is not fully understood by many but there’s a risk involved and it needs to be understood. Car dealerships should also be doing more to ensure the cars they buy from owners or take in part exchange deals are properly returned to factory settings before being sold on to new owners. This would limit the extent of the problem in many cases.
Harry Rose, editor of Which? Magazine, believes that car manufacturers should be doing more to help drivers fully understand that their data can remain stored on the vehicle and accessible to new owners in the future after the vehicle’s been sold. The risk of giving away far too much personal data is very high and not well understood.
There are clear implications for the UK market, car manufacturing and the car dealership industry. Getting to grips with these problems will only become more important as cars become more technologically advanced and ever more interconnected with the phones and electronic devices we rely on each and every day.