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I don't want my car to have access to the internet.

Does plugging an iPhone into a car (i.e. CarPlay) allow the car access to the internet?

(I understand that plugging in an iPhone (which already has internet access) will allow to see pixels rendered on the phone through the car's display. That doesn't count.)

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    Can a car record things then use an iPhone to exfiltrate that data? How exactly does it assume control of your phone? This question is severely vague in details and not clear what you’re trying to solve here
    – Allan
    Apr 17, 2023 at 14:09
  • Well, if you assume an attacker which modifies the software in your car to use whatever security issues CarPlay has to attack your phone, then yes it's possible. But there are probably easier ways to get access to your phone (and/or to track your car).
    – nohillside
    Apr 17, 2023 at 14:19
  • So, to clarify this: Are you asking whether CarPlay as such lets the car take control of your phone, whether there are known attacks on iPhones via CarPlay, or is this more a hypothetical question?
    – nohillside
    Apr 17, 2023 at 19:13
  • Not that it's relevant. But I assume cars are adversaries which collect unnecessary information and which would want to exfiltrate that using any available network connection. (Example: Camry will report everywhere you travel in realtime to Toyota. And this note is buried in the car instructions.) May 3, 2023 at 14:20
  • This is now “can the car use the Internet by tethering from an iPhone?” That would depend on the car’s infotainment system and it’s capabilities. What car make, model, and options? What does the owner’s manual say with reference to this?
    – Allan
    May 3, 2023 at 17:38

2 Answers 2

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No device can just grab information from your phone without your explicit permission.

To be able to do anything more than provide USB power you must opt-in and tell the iOS phone to 'trust' the car, which will require PIN/TouchID/FaceID.

  • If you disable the hotspot, it will be off (thus no internet) no matter which trust choice you opt for.

Even Car Play is really nothing more than a 'big window' into what the phone is processing. It has little 'brain' of its own, it's just a remote display.

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  • However, trusting is required to use CarPlay. Is there any citation available that CarPlay does not afford connectivity to the car in any way?
    – Ezekiel
    May 3, 2023 at 19:28
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All the technical descriptions I've been able to find say that when CarPlay is in use, the phone and its apps are in control of everything that goes on. It's basically similar to the older AirPlay system, which allows Apple devices to control compatible speakers and TVs. It's not a general purpose network router like the WiFi Hotspot, so the car can only do what the CarPlay-enabled apps tell it to do.

So unless Apple has an undocumented feature that allows the car to use it as a hotspot via CarPlay, it should be considered safe from this. Apple in general is very concerned with security, so this would be very much out of character for them.

Separate from CarPlay, if you enable the WiFi Hotspot on your phone, and your car has WiFi, it could tether to your phone and access the Internet this way. But from my experimentating, it's not possible to use the hotspot while CarPlay is in use. When I enabled my CarPlay connection, my tablet didn't see the hotspot in its list of WiFi networks.

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  • Are you able to reference, please, any of that documentation? This makes sense from Apple's posture. However Toyota's posture is the exact opposite: all cars (include fully owned) phone home location 24/7 over internet without consent. Jun 19, 2023 at 14:51
  • Sorry, I'm not an Apple developer, I don't know where that documentation is.
    – Barmar
    Jun 19, 2023 at 15:47
  • If the car is phoning home 24/7, it doesn't sound like it's using the iPhone, since it wouldn't be connected most of the time.
    – Barmar
    Jun 19, 2023 at 15:48

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