Tom Murphy
The FBI's G. Thomas Winterhalter Jr., attorney James Giszczak, Anuja Sonalker from TowerSec and Elaina Farnsworth from Mobile Comply speak on cyber security panel.

Be Safe: Unpair Your Phone, Experts Say

Feb. 5, 2016
Don't fall prey to hackers: Remember to unpair your phone from that rental car you've been driving, particularly if you're driving overseas.

DETROIT – You’re late to the airport for a flight home and still have to drop off the rental car. You rush to the gas station to fuel up, check over the car for any dings or scuffs, grab your bags and hand off the keys at the rental lot.

There’s another important function to be performed before leaving the car, which could fall into other hands within a day, or sooner: If you used the ubiquitous Bluetooth link to pair your smartphone with the rental car’s audio system, a hacker with ill intentions could access important personal information left behind by your phone.

Why chance it?

“A lot of people are not aware of that,” G. Thomas Winterhalter Jr., supervisory special agent in the Detroit Division of the FBI, tells WardsAuto after speaking on an Automotive Press Assn. panel here Wednesday dedicated to automotive cyber security.

“When you sync your phone to that rental car you’re in, when you turn that car in, unsync your phone, unpair it,” Winterhalter says, so there is no digital record of your time in the car when it goes to another customer.

This rule is particularly important for people who travel overseas. “If there’s an adversary that’s attempting to do anything, if they have the right tools and equipment, they can extract your contact information that most people authorize their phone to give to that system.”

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