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CNET On Cars: Personal Data in Your Car: Wipe it out.

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CNET On Cars: Personal Data in Your Car: Wipe it out.

1:53 /

Your car carries a huge amount of your personal data, here's how to get it out of there.

Now, a lot has changed in the world of automotive theft over the decades. In the 1970's, some 70 percent of cars that were stolen were stolen for a joy ride. Now, more than 50 percent of cars that are stolen are stolen to be stripped, to have things stolen out of them or parts from them. But a part that can be stolen from your car that you don't think about is your personal data that's stored in your systems. So, think about these data protection tips for your car when you sell, loan it or just leave it at the shop for a long time. Did you save your home address in the navigation system to allow that nice, one-press, take-me-home functionality? Most recent places you've navigated to are also typically stored in your GPS head unit's menu as well. Did you click yes when the Bluetooth hands-free system asked you transfer your phone contacts into the car? Your recent call history, Incoming and outgoing is typically stored in there as well. Some cars now have text message ability. They can send, receive and, yes, store your message history. And what about that garage door opener built in to your visor? Combine that with the home address you stored in your nav system and you basically made an easy garage break-in kit. Luckily, most of these are pretty easy to deal with, if you just poke around a few menus in your car's head unit, for example, when you unpair a Bluetooth phone that will also typically remove the contacts, the call history- everything else with it. Navigation systems often have a command to clear recent destinations. Some cars have a clear, personal data command in their settings menu that will blow everything out. And de-memorizing the code for your garage door is usually as simple as pushing 2 of the buttons at once for a few seconds. Check your manual to see exactly what the sequence is. So, you know how car makers are always trying to convince us that their vehicles are now rolling consumer electronics. Bingo! And you should think about the data within them in that vein.

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