March 10, 2010, 10:30 AM — An automobile security system will no longer be limited to an alarm that sounds in the event of a break in. As cars increasingly become more technological, security will become more complex, too. That's according to Ford Motor Company, which announced Monday it is building into future models of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles a suite of security features designed to do the same thing as computer security: Protect sensitive data.
The security is for Ford's in-auto SYNC system, which allows owners to connect digital media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones to their vehicle's entertainment system and operate them with voice commands. Additionally, 2011 models with SYNC will also include Wi-Fi Internet access and web surfing when the vehicle is in park.
"As a result, Ford is adapting methods and technologies most often associated with the fast-paced IT world to secure its mobile device-to-car connections from unwanted entry. Think firewalls, virus protection and password-controlled access," the automaker said in a statement. Security features will include:
SYNC Firewall: To prevent unauthorized access and combat Wi-Fi piggybackers, Ford has built in firewalls to both the wireless network and the vehicle.
SYNC Phone Pairing Protection: The one-time pairing of a phone to SYNC is a process through Bluetooth wireless connectivity technology allowing up to 12 cell phones to be recognized by system. The short-range nature of Bluetooth technology makes SYNC's connection to a paired cell phone's stored information, such as contact lists and address books, possible only when the phone is inside the vehicle. If there's no phone in the cabin, the wireless connection is broken and theres no evidence of stored data for invaders to collect.
Encrypted Jukebox: An onboard "jukebox,' which allows customers to download music onto a hard drive, has built-in digital rights management and encryption features.
"Home" Protection: Gives customers with voice-activated navigation the ability to protect their programmed destinations and addresses, such as "home," from unauthorized eyes.
Engine Immobilizer: Patented SecuriLock. passive anti-theft system prevents the engine from starting unless a coded ignition key is used.
Securicode keyless entry: Keypad gives customers the ability to lock their key fob in the car if they want.
Read more about data protection in CSOonline's Data Protection section.