Car theft and vandalism are realistic threats that motorists must consider when buying a vehicle and choosing an auto insurance policy. Criminals are always looking for new ways to break into cars, steal them or strip them for parts. This is why the automotive industry is taking extra precautions as vehicles start becoming more technologically advanced.
According to a recent report from AutoTalk, cyber security is now a primary focus for automakers who want to prevent hackers from gaining remote access to vehicles.
The topic gained public recognition when Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey sent a letter to the chief executives of 20 auto manufacturers earlier this month asking questions about the quality of cyber security in today's consumer vehicles.
"We recognize the importance of protecting our vehicles and customers from cyber threats and the invasions of privacy," wrote CEOs of Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers in a letter to Markey. "The automobile industry understands these risks and is actively working to ensure vehicle systems remain protected from malicious actors."
The two trade groups, which represent 25 major automakers who account for nearly ever car sold in the U.S., vowed to make protection from cyber security threats a top priority for manufacturers.
Traditional security in need of an overhaul as well
Remote access via cyber attack is not the only threat car owners need to take into account when they buy a vehicle. Standard security measures are not as strong as they should be, according to a recent report from the Detroit News.
Security vulnerabilities appear to be the most common in SUVs, vehicles that already have high rates of theft and are often more expensive to insure, especially in neighborhoods known for crime. September 2013 saw an incident in which 16 Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes were broken into at a dealership and stripped of valuable parts.
Controlling three quarters of the market, GM's SUVs, including the Suburban, Tahoe and GMC Yukon, are becoming increasingly popular targets for thieves looking to take wheels and third row seats. The Detroit News noted that American auto manufacturers are looking for ways to minimize this growing problem.
Is new, beefed-up security going to be worth it?
GM is addressing the issue by mandating that revamped anti-theft features come standard with each SUV, and giving drivers the option to buy an enhanced security package for $395. Executive chief engineer Jeff Luke explained these new features.
"We've put a lot of technology into improving the security for our customers, everything from our glass breaking sensors in the quarter glass area to … interior movement sensors," Luke told the news source.
Some new features mentioned by the Detroit News seem like obvious additions. For example, most car alarms will only go off when a door latch is broken and have nothing to do with windows being shattered. Another premium inclusion will be an alarm that goes off when a car is trying to be towed or jacked up off of the ground, put you can also do your part to help deter car thieves.