Mercedes-Benz App Glitch Misdirects Some Owners' Personal Information

Colin Beresford
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

From Car and Driver

  • Two Mercedes-Benz owners reported that the Mercedes Me app was displaying the phone number and location data of other owners, as the tech website Tech Crunch reported.
  • The lapse occurred late last Friday, shortly before the app went offline for site maintenance.
  • A Mercedes-Benz representative said the issue is now resolved and "impacted less than 1 percent of our customers."

The technology being built into our cars is starting to feel indispensable. From the ability to unlock your car with your phone to onboard Wi-Fi, rapidly changing communication systems are quickly making lives easier in the car. Nonetheless, those conveniences come with risks, as a few Mercedes-Benz owners discovered last Friday.

Tech Crunch reported on two users who complained that the Mercedes-Benz app that links to their vehicles, Mercedes Me, was displaying information belonging to other Mercedes owners. The glitch in the app allowed them to see the names of other car owners, their recent location data, and their phone numbers. Luckily, the app didn't allow the impacted users to view the real-time location data of the user whose account they had access to, nor to unlock and start the car, but still, this is just the sort of glitch that people who worry about their privacy imagine as a possibility.

Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

"The information displayed was cached information—not real-time access to the account," Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Donna Boland told the website. "No financial info was viewable, nor was it possible to interact with, or determine live location of, the vehicle associated with the account. When we became aware of the issue, we took the system down, identified the issue, and resolved it."

One of the users whose app was displaying someone else’s information called Mercedes-Benz and was told to "delete the app" until the issue was resolved, the Tech Crunch story reported. The app has since come back online with no further reports of information being shared incorrectly.

The lapse is not the first security concern concerning cars to make news in the past year. Hackers found a way to clone the key fob of Tesla’s Model S, including after the company said it had updated the fob to protect against the cloning. And this past spring, Motherboard reported a hacker broke into the GPS tracker accounts of thousands of users, allowing the person to track the vehicles in real time and in some cases, turn off the engines while they were in motion.

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