Thatcham Research has today launched security ratings to help consumers better understand the theft risk of new cars against a back drop of rising vehicle thefts. The new ratings assess whether measures to specifically address the keyless entry/start vulnerability, have been adopted.
Six of the 11 vehicles launched this year have been given a ‘Poor’ rating as the keyless entry/start system they have as an option has no security measures to prevent theft by criminals using the so-called ‘Relay Attack’ technique. Without this option, the overall security features were classified as ‘Good’.
Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research comments: “This initiative focuses on addressing keyless entry/start vulnerability. We’ve seen too many examples of cars being stolen in seconds from driveways. Now, any vehicle that is assessed against the new Thatcham Research Security Rating, and has a vulnerable keyless entry/start system, will automatically not achieve the best rating.
“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.”
|VEHICLE 2019 Model Year||SECURITY RATING*|
|Land Rover Evoque||Superior|
|Toyota Corolla Hybrid||Poor|
Billyeald continues: “We are really pleased to see that the latest Audi e-tron, Jaguar XE, Land Rover Evoque and Mercedes B-Class were all awarded ‘Superior’. These carmakers have made significant strides in addressing keyless entry/start vulnerability, by either switching to a more secure wireless technology or introducing key fobs that go to sleep when idle. This demonstrates that there are solutions and fixes to the problem, which we expect other manufacturers to include on their future models.
“Our guidance for worried drivers is first and foremost to understand if your vehicle has a keyless entry/start system or not, as it is often an optional extra. If it does, check whether there are solutions available with your key fob – can it be turned off overnight or does it go to sleep when not being used?
DOES A FARADAY SHIELD STOP KEYLESS ENTRY CAR THIEVES?
“Faraday shielding pouches can be effective but test them first to make sure they do block the signal. Many are designed for credit cards so make sure they still close fully with a set of keys inside, to ensure maximum effectiveness.
“Storing all sets of keys, spares included, away from household entry points is also important as it hampers the criminal’s ability to relay the signal.
“And finally, it may in some cases be possible to turn the system off entirely, so it’s worth checking with your dealer.”
INSURANCE INDUSTRY RESPONSE
Laurenz Gerger, Policy Adviser for Motor Insurance at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said:
“Car thieves have been having a field day lately. Crime stats show vehicle thefts at their highest level for a decade. Insurers paid out a record £376 million for car theft in 2018, which was partly driven by the vulnerability of some cars to keyless relay theft. Making these assessments public should spur motor manufacturers to take swift action to tackle this high-tech vulnerability. Meantime, consumers deserve to know how secure their cars are so they can take the necessary steps to reduce the likelihood that they become victims of crime.”
Tips on protecting your vehicle from keyless relay attack:
- Park your vehicle in a well lit and secure area
- Keep your keys far away from external doors and windows
- Turn off the signal overnight, or keep keys in a signal-blocking pouch
- Consider having your vehicle fitted with a tracking device to increase the likelihood it can be recovered