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Car hacks

Car manufacturers are introducing more technology into their vehicles than ever. With technology advancing, risks to security can occur, warns Alternative Route Finance.

One of the most recent developments coming out of the motor industry is vehicles with keyless entry becoming highly targeted. The device works by intercepting the signal that the key fob sends out, and then replicates it. Once replicated, the car will open its doors allowing any thieves complete access. The device being used is still unfamiliar to police and car manufacturer. Insurance companies have recently confirmed that thefts involving this technique, are becomes far more frequent.

Thatcham Research has confirmed the cars most at risk are high end Audis and BMWs. They suspect this is due to their popularity across Europe. Insurance companies has given a warning to anyone who thinks their car is at risk, asking them to take additional security measures, such as secure off road parking or moveable bollards.

Security researchers have so far identified transmission system hacks, based between the vehicle and the key fob used by most car manufacturers, as the likely method. The fob, a cars keyless system that provides two factor authentication, broadcasts a unique and encrypted code. When it matches the code the car broadcasts, it’s able to lock and unlock the car. It is suspected that the hack is based around disrupting that signal, which would open the doors of the car.

However, so far the thieves are relying on complex surveillance before making a move to steal the car. In many cases the signal that the car broadcasts is recorded by the hacker. When the car is unwatched, they’re able to simply replicate the signal they recorded to open the car.

The only sign that the car has been wirelessly unlocked is that the owners fob won’t work first time, but will require two or three clicks before the car opens.

Against the exploit, car manufacturers are updating their software and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is trying to get stronger legislation in place, meaning harder consequences for hackers. Until this is in place, security companies that manage cars should remain vigilant. The hack can often rely on waiting for someone to open the car to copy the signal it gives off. This can mean the potential hacker will need to wait around until the opportunity arises.

Car thefts across the UK are generally falling however, with rates dropping nearly a quarter of million over the last 10 years (according to the UK office for National Statistics). While this new phenomenon is a problem, the largest cause of car theft is still the simplest, stealing the keys. So although it’s important to remain watchful for would-be hackers, the old methods are still the biggest problem for security companies.

About Alternative Route Finance

Since 1999, Alternative Route Finance has offered vehicle leasing and fleet management solutions, based in Hove, Sussex. Call 0844 880 2290, email [email protected] or visit


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