Infotainment Systems: What Your Car Knows About You

If you’ve had a new car in the last 10 to 15 years, you’ve probably benefited from built in bluetooth connectivity via the car radio or infotainment system.

But when you connect your smartphone to your car, do you know how much of your data is transferred in to the car’s memory, and more importantly, do you delete that memory when you change cars?

What Does My Car Know?

The amount and type of data transferred to the car’s memory or accessed by the car will be different depending on the system and configuration.

However, as a minimum your address book is probably copied in to the car’s memory to enable you to make calls via the built in voice control, and for the car to identify who’s calling inwards to you.

This means a copy of all your names and numbers, with other address book data, is now available within the car’s infosystem.

You might also notice that the car has your recent call history, not just the calls you make via the car but all of them.

More sophisticated systems will also copy photos, messages and even feeds from other apps such as social media.

Threats of Data in Infotainment Systems

Over time this builds up in to a lot of data stored in your car, outside your established technology controls.

Consider how easily a passenger could gain access to this data, either while in the car with you or when you step away from the car, for example to get fuel, pay for parking etc.

Storing data within the Infotainment system by-passes your telephone PIN and other mobile device management features you may have enabled on your telephone.

Consider also those other third parties who may have access to your car, such as Mechanics or Valets.

Use the Valet Feature

Many popular Infotainment systems have a valet feature which can be used to apply a temporary PIN number to the system, blocking access to your data.

In a similar way to a hotel safe, you enter the PIN to set it, and then the same PIN to unlock it.

While this is a useful feature, it may be difficult to remember to do this.

Wipe the Infotainment System

When exchanging or selling your car, you should wipe the Infotainment system so that your data is no longer stored in the car.

It’s easy to clear your infotainment system’s memory, the difficult thing is remembering to do so.

Most systems have a built-in reset or ‘restore factory settings’ option, which will take the whole system back to as new and clean your data in the process.

Threats from the Growth of the IoT

As more and more smart-devices join the Internet of Things (IoT), this type of threat is becoming more common.

It’s important to have processes in place for both company and personal devices, to ensure that at the end-of-life or the end-of-use, all data is removed from smart-devices.



The connected world is giving us many convenient benefits but without changing our usage habits, we could be sacrificing our privacy and by-passing established security protocols.

Identifying where such threats exist in your operations is the first step in being able to manage the risks.

Contact Assent for help and advice with Cyber Security, Information Security and more.

Lauren Tobin
Lauren Tobin
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