Should You Worry About Companies Giving Your Car An IP Address?

We have a few things in our life that identify who we are. We have our drivers licenses, our passports, our school ID’s and a couple of other things that let people know outside of our family and group of friends who we really are. This is something that we have gotten used to over time. I am sure that at the time when they first started handing out drivers license that there were a few people who didn’t trust them. Now it is an accepted part of our society. Something that we are seeing more and more of is the fact that overhead satellites are able to track us all over the place. And this is information that we are handing over voluntarily. From the GPS in our cars to the cell phones that we carry in our pockets, all of these devices are able to tell someone where you are at any given time of the day. We are so used to this that we have made a game out of it with services such as foursquare. But now there are ideals to take this even deeper with giving our cars their own IP address. Is this a good idea? We will discuss it in this article.

should you worry about companies giving your car an IP address?

should you worry about companies giving your car an IP address?

What is an IP address?

While some of the readers might be technically astute enough to know what an IP address is, there are a good amount of readers who do not. An IP address is the address that is on any device that is connected to the internet. It is the address that tells the data where to go when you request it from a server. You and the server both have an IP address and that is how you talk to each other. The name that you see in the address bar when you type in a web site like Google.com is only a mask. The real address that you are typing when you contact a web site like Google would look more like 167.132.23.123 than it would the actual name Google. This mask is actually done by a service that is called a DNS aka a Domain Name Server. We will not go too far in the explanation of how this works but just assume that you know already or you can take my word for it.

An IP address can be either dynamic or static. A dynamic address means that the address changes periodically. While there is no set rules of when it will change, just know that it will change somewhere down the line. A static web address is an IP address that will rarely ever change. This is the type of address that they are proposing to be put into cars soon.

What harm can an IP address cause being attached to a car?

Most people who support this system seem to think that if you already let GPs track where you are at then it is no big deal of having an IP address to your car. Yes, they may be able to track you but not anymore than the other devices that you may have attached to the cars already does. And that is a good point. If you have a cell phone that you keep on or if you have a GPS system in the car that you use on a regular basis then privacy should be the last thing that you are concerned about when it comes to a system like this. There is not much more that they can learn about where you are when they use an IP address. But there is something different that having a static IP address attached to a car can do that a GPS system can’t do. It can leave your car vulnerable to a cyber attack.

The more you make your car like your computer, the more it will have the same problems that a computer has. We already see this with the smart phones that are on the market. A lot of the smart phones that are out on the market have been exposed to viruses and other security holes that you didn’t see in the past. And the fact is, most newer cars from the past ten years have a lot of electronic components in them that can be a victim of a cyber attack. There are already hackers out there that use their computer systems to make a car faster. Now if the car is attached to an IP address we can be a victim of someone tampering with our cars from a remote destination.

While an IP address on car will probably not be devastating, you must remember that there are both good points and bad points to having one.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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