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.
"Ford Motor Company delivers highly advanced technology and entertainment platforms that, just like a consumer's laptop or smart phone, need to have security features built into it," said Jim Buczkowski, director, Ford Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering. "Consumers want and need to know that their personal or professional information in their vehicle is specific only to them."
Recent industry data shows that more than 11 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft and fraudulent accounts in 2009 – with nearly a third of fraudulent accounts opened via mobile phone technology. As the use of smartphones escalates – with 174 million shipped globally in 2009 alone – concern over identity and information theft continues to rise.
To give customer peace of mind that their private information is protected, concealed and secure while in the vehicle, Ford is offering the following security features:
- SYNC Firewall: With the launch of MyFord Touch for the 2011 model year, Ford is adding WiFi "hot spot" broadcasting through SYNC using a USB-connected broadband modem. To prevent unauthorized access and combat piggybackers, Ford has built in firewalls to both the wireless network and the vehicle. Using the SYNC WiFi system, a signal will be broadcast throughout the vehicle. Default security is set to WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), requiring users to enter a randomly chosen password to connect to the Internet. When SYNC sees a new WiFi device for the first time, the driver must specifically allow that device to connect, preventing piggybacking on the SYNC-provided signal.
- SYNC Phone Pairing Protection: The one-time pairing of a phone to SYNC is a simple 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 – 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 there's no evidence of stored data for invaders to collect.
- Encrypted Jukebox: Ford's onboard "Jukebox," which allows customers to download music onto a hard drive, has built-in digital rights management and encryption features. The encryption is unique to each navigation unit, which means the hard drive can't be removed, inserted into another vehicle's navigation system and accessed. In addition, hackers can't access the drive from another computer and enjoy those favorite tunes. Customers don't have to worry about someone hopping in their car sight unseen, plugging in a USB stick and doing a quick download of their personal music library, either. The Ford proprietary encryptions protect any songs saved to the system's digital jukebox – which can hold up to 2,400 tracks – from being moved or copied to another device.
- "Home" Protection: Ford also gives customers with voice-activated navigation the ability to protect their programmed destinations and addresses – such as "Home" – from unauthorized eyes. A valet mode can be engaged on the system that locks all programmed destinations from view unless a 4-digit PIN is entered with each ignition key cycle. MyFord Touch will also offer a valet mode.
- Engine Immobilizer: To help protect the vehicle, the mobile hub for all this personal information, Ford depends on SecuriLock. This patented passive anti-theft system prevents the engine from starting unless a coded ignition key is used. With SecuriLock, a wireless radio-frequency transmission is required to transfer an electronic code between a transponder in the key to the vehicle's ignition system. There are 72 million-billion possible codes so every Ford vehicle sold worldwide for the next 10 billion years will come with a unique code.
- Securicode Keyless Entry: The Ford-exclusive keypad gives customers the ability to lock their key fob in the car if they desire (consider not having to worry about losing the expensive fob when biking a mountain trail, sunning on the beach or jamming at a rock concert). Securicode works on a secure 5-digit code. The latest iteration of the keypad employs similar touch-sensitive technology, processors and algorithms used by the iPod and iPhone.