CarPlay’s convenience can’t be overstated.
The technology lets you effortlessly access iPhone apps on your car’s head system while driving.
While CarPlay scores highly on convenience, just how safe is it?
CarPlay is safe if you use the original version of the app in your car. If you use it in a rented car, there is minimal risk of hackers accessing your data because the data is stored on your iPhone. On the other hand, using an altered version of the CarPlay app could expose you to hackers.
In this article, I’ll explore the scenarios in which connecting your phone to your car’s infotainment system could expose your personal data.
I’ll also explain how to make Apple CarPlay secure.
Why is CarPlay Safe?
Apple has a reputation for prioritizing the privacy and security of users in all their products, and CarPlay is no different.
The main reason CarPlay is safe is that the car’s head unit only acts as a dumb monitor. That means the head unit acts as a screen directly relaying what happens on your phone. No personal data is stored in your car’s system after you disconnect CarPlay.
However, the car does retain details from your first CarPlay connection to enhance user experience in the future.
So, some of your phone’s data get stored in the car’s system.
Does CarPlay Save Your Information?
CarPlay does save your information. However, the only data that CarPlay stores on your car is your device ID, which is an identifier unique to your iPhone. This data identifies your device the next time you make the connection and launch the appropriate software.
For example, if the car identifies an iPhone, it launches the CarPlay system. Since the ID is stored in your car’s system, it could theoretically be accessed by a malicious actor, especially if you used CarPlay on a rented car or a shared ride. However, a random device ID alone isn’t helpful to a hacker.
If you only use CarPlay on your car, it’s unlikely a hacker will gain access to it.
But is CarPlay safe when you use a rented car?
Is It Safe To Use Apple CarPlay in a Rental Car?
When renting a car, it can be a joy to discover that it has CarPlay.
Otherwise, you might be forced to keep squinting at the map on your phone rather than taking comfortable glances at the car’s head unit.
That’s a recipe for eyestrain and neck pain — not to mention a potential accident on the road.
It is safe to use Apple CarPlay in a rental car. CarPlay does not store personal data on the car’s system. The only data stored is your device ID, which is useless to malicious actors on its own.
But if you want to be sure none of your data is stored in a car’s system, you can do a factory reset of the CarPlay system in the car after you’re done using it.
This would erase all data, including your device ID.
When Is CarPlay Not Safe in Terms of Data Privacy?
To properly answer the question, “Is CarPlay safe?” we must look at all possible scenarios.
CarPlay is not safe in terms of data privacy if you are using an altered version of the app. But if you are using the original CarPlay app, your data is safe.
CarPlay May Not Be Safe if You’re Using a Third-Party App
If you want to access restricted apps on CarPlay, you can jailbreak your iPhone and use third-party apps.
These are modified to provide access to virtually any apps (such as Snapchat, Netflix, or Instagram) normally restricted for road safety reasons.
The moment you jailbreak your iPhone and install a third-party app, however, you forfeit Apple’s guarantee of safety.
There’s also the risk that suppliers of your third-party software could include malicious software when modifying the app.
They could also include backdoors to facilitate unauthorized access to the app in the future.
So, to make Apple CarPlay secure, use the official technology.
When Is Connecting Your iPhone to a Car’s Infotainment System Not Safe?
Before CarPlay, there were other options to connect your phone to your car’s infotainment system.
For example think of Uconnect, this is the default for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Wagoneer, Ram, and FIAT brands.
These systems options include Bluetooth.
Connecting your iPhone to your car’s infotainment system is not safe when you risk exposing personal data (which is shared and may be stored in the car’s system) such as:
- Phonebook data
- Keystroke data
- Wireless sensor reports
- Data packets from messages, emails, and calendars
Even the average person with no hacking skills can access private data like calls you made when your iPhone was connected to the car.
Additionally, if you use the car’s navigation system, anyone can access data like the locations you searched for.
These are huge concerns, especially when dealing with a rented car.
To be safe, connect your iPhone to your car using CarPlay and avoid technologies like Bluetooth.
Is CarPlay Safe To Use While Driving?
Ideally, you shouldn’t use your phone while driving. In some countries, it’s even illegal and can get you in big trouble.
You also shouldn’t participate in any non-driving activity like eating.
If you have to use your phone on the road, you have to put measures in place to stay safe while doing so.
CarPlay is safe to use while driving. The system takes up as little of your attention as possible. All CarPlay apps are designed to be simple and intuitive.
Additionally, most CarPlay apps are controlled primarily via Siri, so you don’t take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road to give Siri commands.
CarPlay is safe if you follow best practices such as avoiding modified apps and only using the official CarPlay system.
Under normal circumstances, a hacker cannot access your iPhone through CarPlay.
The only data that CarPlay stores on your device is your device ID, which is useless to hackers without additional information.
Even when using rented vehicles, CarPlay is safe. CarPlay is also the safest way to use your phone while driving.