Are E-Scooters Vulnerable to Hackers?January 21, 2019
Article Written by Avery Phillips
You’ve most likely seen small clusters of electric scooters cropping up on your local sidewalks, seemingly overnight. These cheap and effective forms of transportation are especially popular in urban metropolitan areas where the "last mile problem" affects the ways people move through their day-to-day lives. However, these scooters come with their own problems.
Much like any type of new technology, cybersecurity concerns seem to only be addressed once they’re raised as an issue. This means that the storage and transfer of user data may not be as safe as users think it is when they open the app to rent a scooter. It follows that if major corporate entities like Amazon or Sony can be hacked and have their information leaked, then naturally it can’t be that much more difficult to hack into the tiny brain of an electric scooter – especially since people have already figured out how to gut their wiring and batteries.
While scooters can be great tools for getting around, it’s important to treat them with the reservations and caution that every new piece of technology usually deserves. There are still many bugs and user problems to be worked out as the scooter industry progresses. Here are a few things to pay attention to when it comes to your security and scooters.
Scooters can Absolutely Be Hacked
Most scooters have already been in use long enough for all the different ways of hacking them to be discovered. It’s already simple enough to bypass the requirements for riding, such as a helmet or a driver’s license. However, even more workarounds are being discovered every day.
For example, when the scooters for the company Bird first arrived, it was possible to ride for free. When you activated the scooter, all you had to do was lift it off the ground when the wheels started moving and it would cancel the ride in the app. This action would not stop the wheels, however, and you could simply ride however long you wanted without paying.
Additionally, anti-scooter protestors have found a way to hack the scooters with analog methods. Most scooters rely on a QR code to be scanned by the accompanying app in order to be rented. By slapping a sticker over the code, people can "hack" the technology so that it’s unusable.
Your Data Is Not Always Safe in the Cloud
Currently, most scooter apps store information locally. It isn’t a service that necessitates large amounts of user information that they’ll need to pull later. You can simply save your payment method within the app and, via the controls on your own device, decide when and how that information is replaced or updated.
However, there is already talk of building new scooter systems that would utilize cloud technology, and with the hackability of scooters, that could be bad for users. It’s been proven time and again that even major tech giants who make cloud data storage their entire business can be hacked. With scooters being shared by so many different people – and sometimes hacked – tying cloud software to them will require extra cybersecurity precautions.
It’s important to note that if you’re going to be using your mobile device to connect to public networks or various types of public technology, you should revisit your security settings. Since unsecured networks are among the top 5 threats to your cyber security, you should always know what information you’re giving out each time you connect to different networks and make sure you’re only connecting to networks that are secured. You should also always know how recently you changed your password – and try not to use your mom’s birthday.
Keep Yourself Safe in Every Way
The added danger of using scooters is that not only can you potentially have your identity stolen, but you can hurt yourself physically on them. Remember the year razor scooters were the most popular Christmas gift? Most of us knew at least three kids who came back from the holiday break with a broken bone or two, and those types of scooters didn’t even have motors!
This same danger is true of electric rental scooters – especially considering they’re not supposed to be ridden on the sidewalk but rather alongside traffic. In places where they’re most popular, like San Francisco, doctors are seeing an increase in scooter-related injuries – five to 10 a week, at least. All this is to say, make sure you wear a helmet and are practicing safe and responsible riding as much as you can.
You should be actively working to protect your body and your information at all times; you shouldn’t let your guard down just because a scooter looks fun. However, by being responsible and secure, you can definitely still enjoy a scoot down the lane for just a few bucks. There are safe and fun ways to embrace new technology without having to pay the price of the loopholes usually discovered by early adopters.
About the Author
Avery Phillips is a unicorn of a human being who loves all things relating to people and their entrepreneurial spirits. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian.
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