General Motors’ and OnStar’s 4G LTE Wi Fi hotspot available in the majority of the automaker’s new vehicles is designed to make your time spent on the road a bit more bearable. The system gives vehicle occupants a consistent 4G LTE connection, allowing them to stream video, get maps, send emails and more without eating up their cellular data. The technology is the first of its kind implemented on a production car and as a result, some are a little worried about the security risks involved. The Car Guide claims that GM’s 4G LTE hotspot uses a password-protected mobile router just like the one that’s in your house.
The worry is if some customers don’t change the password on the router provided by the dealership, the chances of someone compromising the system are much greater. A knowledgeable person could potentially access the connection to learn your personal information or, Car Guide says, break into the vehicle’s on board systems. Having your personal data stolen is only part of the potential issue.
Many vehicle occupants will already have a smartphone with a data connection to surf the internet. We can see many customers simply not wanting to pay an extra cell phone bill for their car every month just to be connected while they are driving. But the capabilities of OnStar 4G LTE, being able to connect multiple devices could be a big winner for customers who constantly fill the seats of their vehicle. This would allow for everybody to stream what they want from their devices at a fraction of the cost of a cellphone bill. The appeal for fleet customers is also there.
GM is giving customers a free trial with 4G LTE Wi Fi, so maybe some will find the technology more beneficial than they thought and sign up for a data plan. Additionally, as more and more cars become connected for safety reasons, having an internet connection in your car will probably be commonplace.
But — should we all worry? In short, no.
The passwords, for example, leave the factory with a randomized SSID and randomized password, to ensure strong security from hackers or whoever (which would have to follow the vehicle very closely for an extended period of time). Secondly, OnStar 4G LTE uses the WPA2 security standard, which is apparently the highest in the industry.