Android Auto: Tips for Staying Safe & Secure

Android Auto is a pretty cool extension for Android. Allowing you to use your phone in the car, basically connecting it to the touchscreen in your car like you would connect a laptop to a monitor. But it’s not all good news. For example, when you have vulnerabilities in Android, those do also transfer over to Android Auto. But it goes a bit deeper than that. Android is not that secure, although it has gotten better over the years, and is open to hackers. In fact, hackers is what has made Android the powerhouse it is today. Although hacking is a bit scarier when we’re talking about a vehicle. So we’re going to go over a few ways to stay safe with Android Auto and keeping your eyes on the road.

Do not Sideload Apps

Android Auto isn’t as open as regular Android, and for good reason. While Google mostly talks about how it’s closed down to keep the driver’s attention on the road, there’s another good reason for this. And that is to keep users from installing apps that could take over the car, or do anything else to harm the driver or user. Sideloading Android apps isn’t always a good idea in the first place, but when it comes to Android Auto, there could be even bigger repercussions. Imagine you sideloaded an app that you thought would give you roadside assistance, but instead it took over the controls of the car? That’s definitely not a good thing.

Do not Root your Head Unit

There’s been some talk on the usual forums about rooting the head unit that runs Android Auto. This is not a good idea. It’s never a good idea to root something that works in your car. This could have disastrous effects, and you could even brick your car. While we laugh about the idea of someone saying “I bricked my car” it’s not something anyone wants to deal with.

Read Permissions before Granting Them

Android does a good job at asking for permissions for different features and such, and while the majority of us are just going to tap on accept or approve, instead of reading the permission we’re granting, we need to be reading them. These let us know why a specific app or service needs permission to access our location or our storage. For instance, Spotify really doesn’t need access to our location for Android Auto, since it’s not giving us directions, but Google Maps definitely does. This is a good tip for Android in general and not just Android Auto.

Use Common Sense

As is always the case when it comes to security and privacy, use common sense when downloading apps, granting permissions and even using Android Auto. The last thing you want is for your car to get hacked and you lose control over it. Which is something that has happened before with a Jeep (although this was done on purpose to show how easy it could be done).

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