Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: model s

How can I tell if my car has been hacked?

  • When you drive, does your GPS talk back with more attitude than normal?
  • Do you find your car going on late-night ice cream runs?
  • Has your car strangled you or your family? More than once?
  • Will your car refuse to perform rolling stops or turn right on red?

If you can say “yes” to any of these, then your car may be hacked. But don’t panic! It’s equally likely your car has just been possessed by a hungry ghost.

We are all acclimated to the security risks on our computers and phones; you update often, avoid sketchy websites, and don’t download questionable software. However, the king of the open road has never dealt with these challenges. Our cars were a sanctuary. The only risk was of being involved in one of 10.8 million accidents per year. But hacking? Leave that to the computers!

Today, your car is a computer as well. In fact, it’s more computer than your computer. Besides the OBD2 service plug under your dashboard, it is a veritable treasure trove of calculating machines. Anti-lock brakes, stability control, airbags, roll compensation, variable headlights, lane guidance, and more all run computations hundreds of times per second. Not to mention the entertainment systems which are more tightly integrated into car operations each year.

News stories describing vehicle hacking sensationalize the event, making it difficult to know whether the problem uncovered is a true risk. Perhaps, then, we cannot blame people for being afraid of their next car being the victim of hackers. A recent survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book put numbers to the suspicions. Of note, nearly half (41%) would consider vehicle security provisions during their next purchase. Over half (58%) felt a permanent solution to the problem will never be found.

That group is correct. If computer code is more complex than “Hello, world!”, it has bugs. Just as your body has a variety of protections against sickness, from skin to an immune system, sometimes both our bodies’ and our computers’ code gets “colds”. The concern is in severity. A small rash might be an inconvenience, but the flu can put you out of commission for days. Same too with the computer. If the bug is serious enough, and a hacker (like a virus) can infect deeply into the system, then the system can be taken over.

The key to ensuring car hacking does not become a safety issue is in the ability to get fixes to the vehicles. Tesla designed their Model S (and all future vehicles) with a wireless update capability, much like your phone. When it’s plugged in and charging, it checks for updates, which can fix security and stability bugs, as well as add new features. Your next drive is then more secure. The Jeep Cherokee you heard was hacked (luckily by good guys) has no such feature, and must either be driven to a dealership or manually updated with a USB drive.

Luckily for Chrysler, people don’t yet see their cars as they do their phones. From a technical standpoint, they’re the same; Internet-connected devices that you depend upon to just work. In the aforementioned survey, 64% would elect to drive to a dealership for a security update to be installed. Would you drive to the Apple Store, wait in line, then wander around the mall for an hour while the latest update is set up on your phone? Of course not. You’d demand better. It’s only a matter of time until this migrates to cars.

Your credit union (you didn’t think I’d get to you, but I did!) has strong security features in place. Your members’ personal and financial information must never fall into the wrong hands, or any other hands, for that matter. But vulnerabilities exist and there are always those looking to exploit for their own ends. Does your IT team ensure both technical problems and human error cannot compromise your core LOS? What about your members? If your last security notice to them was a red bar on your website, they didn’t understand. In the same way you provide financial literacy education, help your members keep a safer digital life. Share the procedures in place at your own branches…does anyone use “password” as their password?

In today’s always-connected society, you are likely the most security-conscious entity your members directly encounter in their daily life. Help them be as great as you at conducting safe online practices. Consider yourself the wireless updates for your members’ security features.

But watch out for that moody GPS. Your delightful British accent isn’t fooling anyone!

Update: Another report has surfaced that the OBD2 port mentioned above connects to an inherently insecure platform, the CAN bus. It’s ok, it’s only on every car made in the last 20 years. However, devices that give the port wireless capabilities, like OnStar or insurance monitoring attachments, put your vehicle more at risk. Me? I’m keeping that port empty, especially given all the self-driving systems on my car. 

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Hacking a Tesla and A New CUGeek Category!

The media drives me crazy. And I don’t mean the media players on my computer (Will it play this format? Duh, should have used VLC). If you follow any subject in the news, for any length of time, then you’ll feel that same desire for authenticity. When did the drive for clicks and ad impressions outdo the motivation for accurate reporting (at every phase, including headline…I’m looking at you, original “yellow journalists”)?

A credit union industry publication once called me an “industry watchdog”. Woof woof! (Is that what watchdogs say? I’m a cat person.) It’s time for me to take my assigned role and run with it!

Today, I’m introducing a new category to my blog called CUbit. Why yes, I am referencing the Biblical form of measurement equal to around 46 centimeters, how did you know? 46 centimeters isn’t a great distance, about one and a half feet. So, arms length. And, of course, CU represents you, credit unions! Posts with the CUbit tag will be short, outside schedule blasts on trending (or soon-to-be trending) media topics of interest to the industry.

The first CUbit? Hacking a Tesla Model S. Well, that’s what TIME says. The reality is that some good guys with mad computer skills (they’re known as “white hats”, while bad guys are “black hats”) plugged their laptop into a Model S (yes, with a cord) and were able to override the main computer. They could do anything a normal person would do in a normal vehicle…change speed, open the moonroof, shut off the motor, etc. But not without a really long cord, because their system only worked with a wire.


Again, not really. The security issue was reported to Tesla, who already has a fix in place and will be sending it out to every car wirelessly tonight (Thursday). So by the time you read exaggerated articles about this issue, the cars will already be fixed.

Hacked Tesla? Yes and no. Can yours be remotely controlled? No. Is the issue widespread? No, it’s fixed. Was there an update necessary? Yes, though Tesla planned ahead with wireless updates while the car is charging in your garage.

So, false crisis averted, new category created, and you’ve finished the first CUbit! Thank you for your continued readership and support. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to contact me.

Update: TIME has updated their article to elucidate the points made above. Kudos to their editing. A shake of the head to them for ever posting the original version.

Upgrading to Super-Members

Last month, Tesla Motors announced the D, and, in their words, “something else”. No, it was not a hovering car. Nor did they add rocket boosters onto the side. Well, actually…

Turns out, the D was a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version of the Model S. And the “something else” was an Autopilot system.

Not bad. They made incremental improvements to their existing products. Or, did they take their current line to a new level?

Alongside the improved handling an AWD vehicle provides, the D system adds a second “engine” and nearly doubles the horsepower. With a 0-60 performance of 3.2 seconds, it becomes a super-car, and the fastest 4-door vehicle ever. Oh, and those dual motors improve range as well. Then, the Autopilot system can handle up to 90% of highway driving, on its own.

Faster, safer, more efficient. I guess you really can have your cake and, well, you know the rest.

We speak to a lot of credit unions. Every one wants to attract their members to more services while growing their membership. They’ll welcome that growth within a range of products. Credit cards? We have low rates! Mortgage? Easy filing and rate guarantees. Car loans? Set up auto-pay and we’ll deduct a few basis points.

Think about the Tesla approach. Sure, they have the Model X on the horizon, and a Model 3 a year or so following, but right now, they are laser-focused on the Model S. “But Joe, they only have one product right now, so of course they would be focused!”

You’re right. So why can’t you do the same within the CU? Offer your range of services, then choose one each quarter to super-charge. How can you add the “D” for mortgages? Credit cards?

With our partners, we focus solely on auto loan growth. It helps them extract the best of their program, expertise, and goals into a focused campaign. They’re not reinventing auto loans, just doubling their horsepower.

If only we all had an Autopilot feature for running the institution.

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