A cybersecurity expert reveals how it happens

You can tell a lot about someone by the car they drive. The data many vehicles now collect can reveal patterns in our daily lives and provide insight into our behavior, actions and even our state of mind.

Vehicle forensics is a type of digital forensics that focuses on identifying, acquiring and analyzing data stored by cars, vans and trucks.

Originally, vehicle forensics was mainly related to the external identification of stolen cars or tax and MOT violations through the use of the ANPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) system in the UK. The system was invented during the 1970’s but did not become widely used by police until the late 1990’s. ANPR works by scanning number plates and comparing them to a database of vehicles of interest.

However, in recent years, the process of prosecuting violators has become more sophisticated and now also encompasses data extraction from inside vehicles. From the mechanisms used to enhance the driving experience to the built-in entertainment systems, all can aid in the detection of crimes and can be admissible as evidence in court.

6. The black box

Black boxes are devices used in vehicles to monitor an individual’s driving skills. They are not present in all vehicles, but they are popular with insurers. If black box data reveals that a driver is performing well behind the wheel, it can be used to reduce their premium.

Along with recording GPS coordinates, the black boxes can show how far a vehicle has traveled, how often it has been driven, as well as its ability to brake and turn, for example.

5. The infotainment system

Listening to music while driving used to involve a simple cassette tape or CD player. But slowly these systems gave way to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB devices that can be operated via touchscreens or panel-mounted displays.

In addition to providing information and entertainment, the infotainment system is often how drivers interact with other vehicle functions, such as displaying how much fuel has been used and controlling seat temperature.

When smartphones are connected to cars or paired via Bluetooth, the infotainment system can store data such as browsing history, text messages, emails, Internet browsing history and social media feeds, as well as cell tower connections. and Bluetooth.

4. Electronic control units

Electronic Control Units or ECUs assist in running a vehicle and are often described as the “brains” of the engine. They are located inside the car, usually in the glove box, engine compartment or under the dashboard. Essentially, an ECU is a computer, switching system, and power management system housed in a very small enclosure.

There are usually more than 75 ECUs in a vehicle and each one is responsible for a certain task. For example, the engine’s ECU controls fuel injection and, in gasoline engines, the timing of the spark to ignite the fuel. Tight seat belts, air pressure, and lights on and off are also functions of the ECUs.

To aid driver efficiency, ECUs and the infotainment system often work together, storing a wide variety of data about the ways in which a vehicle is used.

3. eCall units

Emergency Call Units, or eCall, were introduced in new vehicles in the EU and UK in 2018. This is an emergency system that aims to offer quick assistance if and when there are traffic incidents. The vehicle’s sensors can identify collisions and can detect whether the airbags have deployed. This, in turn, triggers a call to emergency services.

The data collected by eCall includes the vehicle’s GPS coordinates, the direction of travel, the VIN (vehicle identification number), the type of fuel used and even whether or not the seat belts were fastened.

2. Keyrings

In addition to their more obvious function of locking and unlocking our cars, key fobs contain a remarkable amount of information. Some of the data stored on a fob includes the VIN, the number of keys paired to a specific vehicle, and the last time the vehicle was locked and unlocked.

1. Cameras

Rear and dash cameras can help with parking and provide accident footage for insurance investigators. But they can also reveal the journey taken by the vehicle along with timestamps as well as road positioning.

In addition, dash cams can capture images of other road users and pedestrians. The national dash cam security portal allows camera owners to submit footage to police forces in England and Wales which can be used by investigators.

This article was originally published in The conversation by Rachael Medhurst at the University of South Wales. Read the original article here.

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