It’s important to understand the risks of connecting your phone to a rental car via Bluetooth or an auxiliary cord.
As the vice president of a rehab company, Kristy Yoskey is an experienced business traveler.
Four days a week, three weeks a month she is traveling for work. If her trip is over two hours she rents a car, and if it’s over four hours she usually flys. However, even while flying, she uses rental cars once reaching her destination.
That’s 120 rental cars a year on average. That’s a lot of driving!
Kristy says it’s second nature throw the Bluetooth on when she gets into the car. Through Bluetooth, she listens to music and takes calls hands-free.
While visiting different cities and clients every week, Kristy depends on hands-free technology to operate her life on the road.
However, what Kristy may not know is that her personal information is put at risk every time she rents a car.
A research analyst at Secure State, Bryan Safara, says rental cars store your phone number to connect back at another point easily. So every time you connect Bluetooth or plug your phone into the auxiliary cord, the car can store your data.
It also downloads all of your contacts, address book, all text messages or emails during the time it’s connected, and any call logs. So even when you disconnect, your information remains there.
So all of that personal information is there, waiting around for the next renter to find. What can you do to protect yourself?
Safara says the easiest protection is just not to connect to it. The data won’t be there if you never connect. If you do, go into the settings on the car’s console and delete all the data, or do a factory reset.
Another thing to consider- if you use the car’s navigation system, go into the settings and clear the history. Then future renters won’t know where you went or more importantly, where you live.
Safara also says not to use USB ports. He says there is a serious risk with connected cars, like hackers taking control of the vehicle.
However, as technology is evolving and hackers are becoming more advance, there’s always something to watch out for.
It’s a real eye-opener for travelers like Kristy, who says she will be much more careful when connecting to a rental car.
Kristy says she didn’t even think that was possible. Once your phone is off and out of the car, you would believe it was over. Knowing that the next driver could see your information is unsettling, but being aware is the first step in protecting yourself and your personal information.