Half of New Cars at Risk From Keyless Theft

More than half of new cars are at serious risk of being stolen owing to keyless technology being widely deployed by carmakers.

Top selling 2019 models including Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Nexo, Kia ProCeed, Lexus UX, Porsche Macan and Toyota Corolla have been rated ‘poor’ in their defence mechanisms against keyless entry/start attacks.

These are the claims made by security specialist Thatcham Research which says six of the 11 brand new models tested suffered poor results to attempted theft with no security measures to prevent criminals using the so-called ‘relay attack’ technique. Without this keyless option, the overall security features were classified as ‘good’.

Cars rated by the company as ‘superior’ included the Audi e-tron, Jaguar XE, Land Rover Evoque and Mercedes B Class.

Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research comments: “We’ve seen too many examples of cars being stolen in seconds from driveways. Security has come a long way since vehicle crime peaked in the early 1990s but the layers of security added over the years count for nothing when they can be circumvented instantly by criminals using digital devices. The shame is that most of the cars rated ‘poor’ would have achieved at least a ‘good’ rating had their keyless entry/start systems not been susceptible to the Relay Attack.”

He pointed out that owners of vehicles with keyless technology could consider buying Faraday shielding pouches to block signals, storing sets of keys and spares away from household entry points and even turning the system off completely where possible.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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