Toyota Japan Admits to Exposing Millions of Customers' Data to the Open Internet for Years

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Toyota was far behind the times when it came to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with some at the company citing concerns around owners’ privacy as a significant speedbump to implementing the tech. Now, it seems those concerns didn’t completely extend to other areas of the automaker’s business. It recently apologized for leaving millions of owners’ data on the internet for several years.

Toyota will reach out to more than two million customers after discovering that data was left on the public internet for a decade. Blaming a “cloud misconfiguration,” Toyota Japan said that customers’ email addresses, vehicle chassis and computing numbers, location data, and video from onboard cameras were left online and only recently discovered by the company.

The flub only affects Japanese owners, so everyone else can breathe easily. Even so, it’s not the first time Toyota has admitted to loose data handling practices. Last year, the company said it had exposed 300,000 customer email addresses for several years. Earlier this year, a data security researcher found a vulnerability in Toyota’s supplier portal that exposed data on 14,000 of the automaker’s suppliers. 

While it’s good news that this particular issue doesn’t affect Americans, every new car on the road today performs some degree of data collection. Automakers use the data to improve their products, but some owners have reported being denied warranty claims and other issues due to data collected on their driving behavior. This might be one situation where reading the fine print pays off. 

[Image: Toyota]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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5 of 8 comments
  • IBx1 IBx1 on May 12, 2023

    Does it make it any better knowing all that data about you is normally simply sold to whoever has money and asks to buy it?

    • Sayahh Sayahh on May 12, 2023

      That's why everyone should be able to opt out (better yet, make that the default) and have it deleted. Toyota knows and cares about data and tech like the FCC cares about stopping robocalls and spoofed numbers.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on May 12, 2023

    I wonder if my truck is telling GM that I've jumped it and blown donuts with it? Or have crawled through some nasty sh!t and gotten stuck?

    • See 1 previous
    • Jeff S Jeff S on May 14, 2023

      Big brother is watching us. This doesn't surprise me especially when our own smart phones track us.

  • JOHN One is for sale on an ebay car donation site.
  • Scott So they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars and they are promising us a “Cheaper EV”? I wonder how that will look and feel? They killed the Fiesta because they claimed that they couldn’t make a profit on them and when I bought the first one in late 2010 they couldn’t deliver the accessories I wanted for it! Then I bought a 2016 Fiesta ST and again couldn’t get the accessories for it I wanted. They claimed that the components were going to be available, eventually. So they lost on that one as well! I don’t care about what they say anymore. I’ve moved on to another brand.
  • Michael S6 CX 70 or 90 will not be on my buying list. Drove a rental base CX 90 and it was noisy and the engine noise was not pleasant. Ride was rough for a family SUV. Mazda has to understand that what is good for Miata isn't what we expect in semi luxury SUV. My wife's 2012 Buick Enclave has much better Ride and noise level albeit at worse gas millage. Had difficulty pairing my phone with Apple CarPlay
  • Michael S6 What is the metric conversion between one million barrels and the number of votes he expects to buy.
  • NJRide This could give Infiniti dealers an extra product maybe make it a sub brand