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Mobile Data Collection and Vehicle Security Concerns

Read Time: 4 minutes

How to Address Worries Over Your Data Security

It seems that at every turn, businesses are collecting our data and personal information. If we want to experience the benefits of their services, we don’t have a choice, right? However, there are some ways that we are willingly giving up our privacy when we should probably know better. Flashy features may distract us from the cost or implications of using these services. Sometimes it comes down to whether the benefits outweigh the consequences. However, before you can weigh the risks and rewards, it is necessary to know what they are. Here are a few vehicle security concerns that you are probably overlooking.

GPS Speed Tracking and Data Security Concerns

Google Maps recently implemented a speedometer function in their app that displays the posted speed limit along with the current speed of the car. Waze and Apple Maps are among the others who already offered the feature. The Google Maps speedometer is not completely foolproof; it occasionally appears to miss or delay a speed limit change and, at times, can differ from the car speedometer by a few miles per hour. Though not a replacement for speed limit signs, it is a useful supplementary resource if you happen to miss one as you drive by. The feature can be toggled on and off in the app… which may come in handy considering the potential future implications.

We can’t help but imagine a dystopian-esque program that monitors speeding and dishes out tickets. Could it be possible to cut down on traffic stops and have people essentially self-monitor their speed? Sounds like the toll road system, “Just keep driving, we’ll send you the bill!” In theory, this could encourage people to be safer drivers (how many times have you slowed down when you saw a police car, even if you weren’t speeding?). In this way, your app is now the one watching you. But in reality, it could also backfire and end up encouraging speeding for those who don’t care or are able to afford it. Truly, any road could become a “toll” road at that point and we don’t want a new reason for drivers to endanger those around them.

Car Insurance Rewards and Mobile Data Collection 

Speaking of tracking drivers, some car insurance companies offer rewards based on safe driving programs. Trips can be tracked using an app or plug-in device. It is important to understand the implications of these tracking programs, as you won’t want to be penalized for riding with a less careful driver. Users may not realize that the apps can run in the background even when they aren’t currently open or in use. Thankfully, there are ways to pause the feature and to remove trips that shouldn’t be counted toward your driving. Allstate claims that location data is seen only by the user, while driving performance data is visible to the driver, the policy holder’s agent and customer service representatives.

With Snapshot from Progressive, drivers can be penalized for unsafe driving. Voluntary surveillance can “out” drivers who were hoping to save money but didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The data can be shared more generally with third parties, though mostly in terms of legal or policy considerations. However, the de-identified data is also used for research, among other things.

Location Tracking Implications 

There are a lot of details about how these companies collect and use the data. While the benefits of the programs may be substantial, it is worth considering whether the amount of data collected is worth it. Additionally, what would it mean if the data was somehow compromised? Would you want a record of your driving patterns and common routes? It would not be hard to find out where you lived and your most visited locations if a hacker could trace the data back to you. Additionally, the data could be incriminating in the case of an accident. We may think of technology as neutral or objective, but even the numbers may not share the full story. 

This situation is further complicated by the fact that tech companies can track your location even when you think your location data is turned off. It is not always easy to tell what features store geographical data and how to turn them on or off. At this point, you may be ready to delete your apps and switch back to paper maps. But whether you use the apps and how you decide to use them is up to you. What happens when the feature is built-in? 

Bluetooth Vulnerabilities and Data Security

In the age of smart cars (and no, we’re not just talking about compressed, two passenger vehicles), Bluetooth seems to be a standard feature. Bluetooth capabilities for vehicles have been around since the beginning of the century, but the lack of security is not limited to merely your car. A recent Bluetooth vulnerability exposed user information such as contacts, call and text logs and even messages. So it would appear that some of your data and other information could be at risk. 

Developers are still working to improve Bluetooth security and there is still a long way to go. Thankfully, companies are addressing the issues promptly as they arise. However, it is important to limit the use of Bluetooth and do not leave the feature enabled when it’s not in use. Beyond cars, this applies to your other electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablets. 

Security Tips for Mobile Data Collection 

Rather than avoiding technology entirely, it is possible to take precautions to help protect your data. Below are some data security tips to help you get started on addressing your in-vehicle security concerns.

Tips for Drivers:

  • Disable speed monitoring if you do not use this feature;
  • Research the privacy policies of your GPS and insurance providers;
  • Don’t pair your Bluetooth device to rental/temporary cars or be sure you remove the connection completely after use;
  • Delete data from your car before allowing others to have access (ex. for repairs or valet services);
  • Utilize apps that help you remove personal information; and
  • Turn Bluetooth off whenever it is not in use.

Tips for App Providers:

If your business is looking to develop a mobile app, the team at 7T is ready to help. Our team takes great pride in our ability to leverage cutting-edge technologies in our custom software and mobile app development projects. Data security is extremely important to us, which is why we offer a secure development framework and end-to-end security features.

Based in Dallas, 7T maintains regional offices located in Chicago and Houston. To discuss your new data lake, or a software or mobile development project, contact the team at 7T today.

Reach out to our team today!

Harshit Gupta

Harshit Gupta has more than eight years of experience as a Senior Developer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Software Engineering and an MS degree in Computer Science from Arkansas State University. Some of his most notable accomplishments include his dissertation on 3-Tier MapReduce, being named runner-up in 7T's Annual Hack-a-thon, and receiving the “think/WOW” award for his work on Lockton-Dunning Benefits.


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