Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSB, noted: “It’s hard for consumers to keep up with rapidly evolving vehicle technology and they wonder if their privacy and personal information is protected.” (Credit: knssr/stock.adobe.com) Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSB, noted: “It’s hard for consumers to keep up with rapidly evolving vehicle technology, and they wonder if their privacy and personal information is protected.” (Credit: knssr/stock.adobe.com)

Nearly 40% of U.S. motorists are somewhat or very concerned about cybersecurity and safety of connected and autonomous vehicles, according to a survey from Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), a Munich Re division. Additionally, 35% said they feared a virus, hacking incident or other cyberattacks could damage or destroy a vehicle’s data, software or operating systems.

Among respondents, 11% drove electric vehicles. Of those drivers, half said they worried charging stations could be a point-of-entry for a cyberattack, the cyber insurance and services provider reported.

These worries aren’t unfounded, according to the HSB poll, as one in 10 consumers reported a hacking incident or other cyberattack affecting their vehicle, an increase of 3% compared with the year prior. As the number of connected cars grows, so do concerns that vehicles could eventually be controlled remotely by nefarious actors.

“Our cars are more connected than ever,” Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSB, said in a release. “It’s hard for consumers to keep up with rapidly evolving vehicle technology, and they wonder if their privacy and personal information are protected.”

Communications from hackers top concerns

Nearly half of survey respondents said the biggest worry stemming from a vehicle cyberattack is having a hacker communicate with them over the audio system in an attempt to coerce them or demand ransom.

Other top concerns were the vehicle being immobilized, safety systems being compromised and being locked out, according to HSB.

Further, half of the survey respondents said they sync their smartphones to a vehicle, while 36% said they have an app dedicated for just this purpose. On top of this, nearly a quarter said they had Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot to provide internet access on the road.

However, a slight majority (51%) said they are confused over what personal data is being exposed when they synch their devices and cars.

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