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Chevy's smart car system stashes valuables away safely

Posting in Energy

When our vehicles are suddenly equipped with the same features as smartphones and tablets, why don't we consider security in the same way?

When you take your first driving lessons, you need to get to grips with gears, pedals, steering and the rules of the road. However, a number of new models now come with a plethora of additional features -- everything from Wi-Fi connectivity to dashboards complete with their own applications, traffic analytics and digital maps. All of these features can be useful in themselves, but suddenly a wealth of private information can also end up stored in the vehicle which was once only used to go from A to B.

Contact details, movement and destination records, even account details if you are accessing web-based services from your car -- it's all there for someone to dip in and rifle through.

However, some car manufacturers have considered this potential data risk, and compensated for it. Chevy's new Impala comes with a central display which is only accessible if you input a personal code -- similar to what we often do to secure our smartphones -- keeping contacts, phone call logs, address books and all other data hidden.

In addition, it's not only data that can be kept safe -- by entering your pin code, you can also access a hidden compartment where you can stash away anything you don't want in public view.

It seems like a very simple way to keep some of your data away from prying eyes, and it's surprising that few automakers have considered including this feature. But as dashboards become more interactive and become veritable data mines, solutions like Chevy's "Valet Mode" are likely to become imperative to keeping your information as well as physical valuables secure.

The "Valet Mode" system is due to debut this year.

(Hat Tip: Autopia)

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— By on February 18, 2013, 11:00 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure