You’ve spent the whole day shopping, you knew bubblegum ice cream was a bad idea for the kids, you’re so close to that bath you’ve been promising yourself all week, and all that’s left to do is to load up the groceries but your car won’t unlock.
Are keyless cars safe and how to prevent getting hacked?
In recent news a number of motorists had been locked out of their vehicles after parking on the north side of Lakeside Joondalup shopping centre here in Perth.
What seemed to be a common factor amongst the 100 or so stuck motorists was keyless car entry and ignition.
Police were alerted as there may have been a hacking device in the car park, but further investigations found no evidence of criminality had been identified.
Over the years we have seen an increase in car theft worldwide as keyless car entry and ignition welcomes thieves with hacking devices.
Statistics show that car thefts in the USA had hit an 8 year high in 2017 with keyless car entry contributing to an increase of 12.6% from the all-time low in 2014.
Vehicle interference has also been associated to a spike in car thefts in the UK with a rise of 29% since 2014 and an increase of 19% from 2016-2017.
Fortunately, relay attacks are still quite rare in Australia with a report showing more than half of the 52,858 cars stolen were from burgled keys (37%) and keys left in the car (18%).
Only a small percentage (14%) of cars were stolen without keys, but these were mostly in relation to hotwiring, VIN numbers, and pushed/towed.
Western Australia ranked 4th overall with a car theft rate of 16.4% and Victoria taking home first place with 29%.
How does keyless car hacking work?
The process involves two devices that communicate with each other using radio frequencies. Thieves will approach your car and home, with 1 device at each point before they do a quick scan for any key fob signals. Once a signal has been captured, it is then transmitted back to the relay box closest to your car which fools the car into thinking the key fob has been used.
How to prevent your car from getting hacked?
Here are some simple tips to reduce the likelihood of thieves hacking your key fob:
Make sure your car is locked away and safe in your garage. If you can’t leave it inside the garage, evaluate the risk of leaving it in the driveway or sidewalk.
Consider where your keys are kept at night, don’t just leave them in a tray next to the front door.
Research your car’s manufacturer before purchasing a vehicle to learn if best practices are being followed for key fob security.
Update your car’s software.
Store your keyless remote in the fridge.
Store your keyless remote in a faraday bag.
Turn off your car’s bluetooth and wifi when not in use.
Hide your car’s wifi password.
Scan any USB drives before plugging them into your car.
Keep your keys out of sight and as far away from the exterior of your home as possible.
Wrap your keyless remote in aluminium foil.
What to do if you think your car’s been hacked?
Check for vehicle recalls, faults, and software updates.
Search for your car to see if there had been any recalls or issues, and check your auto manufacturers website for any potential software updates.
Contact your auto manufacturer or authorised dealer.
Express your concerns as they may be able to assist and provide further information.
Contact your insurance company.
Check to see if your insurance policy covers car hacking thefts. Since these types of crimes is relatively new, there may be some confusion on who’s liable for what. Insurers will usually cover, providing owners have taken ‘reasonable’ care to protect their property.
Contact the police.
Contact the police immediately if you fear your vehicle may have been hacked or for any suspicious activity.
What car models are most vulnerable to car-hacking?
Audi: A3, A4, A6
Citroen: DS4 CrossBack
Ford: Galaxy, Eco-Sport
Hyundai: Santa Fe CRDi
Lexus: RX 450h
Nissan: Qashqai, Leaf
Range Rover: Evoque
Ssangyong: Tivoli XDi
Volkswagen: Golf GTD, Touran 5T
Which car models are likely to be stolen in Australia?
The top 5 stolen cars in Australia ranking first to last, Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Pulsar, and Toyota Corolla.
The reality of keyless technology
As technology advances, keyless remotes have been made to make our lives easier and more convenient. If you’re carrying 6 bags of shopping while pushing a trolley with 2 kids on it, trying to fish your keys out of your pocket can be an impossible task. Unfortunately, the downsides can sometimes be counteractive, with router/modem frequencies rendering 100 cars unlockable, cars not switching off when your out of range, and car hacking thieves stealing cars in a matter of seconds.
We recommend that if you currently drive any of the vehicles mentioned above, to contact your insurer and go through your policy to see what is covered, contact your auto manufacturer for any software updates, and to be extra vigilant of car hacking thieves.
If your car has been broken in a more traditional way such as by breaking one of your windows, we can help. We replace any windows of any vehicles’ model. We also provide road assistance should you need it. Your safety is our priority.