Relay Theft threatens new models
Thatcham Research has given poor safety ratings to six of 11 new cars launched this year, due to keyless entry and start technology.
The Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Nexo, Kia ProCeed, Lexus UX, Porsche Macan and Toyota Corolla were all given poor ratings due to the keyless technology's vulnerability to entry and starting.
However, the Audi e-tron, Jaguar XE, Land Rover Evoque and Mercedes B Class 2019 models rated 'Superior'.
The new ratings assess whether measures to specifically address the keyless entry/start vulnerability, have been adopted. The six models were given poor ratings 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 said, '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.'
'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?
'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.'
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd said, 'I am determined to take swift and decisive action against vehicle theft. In January I chaired the first meeting of the Vehicle Theft Taskforce, which brought together members of industry and the police to significantly strengthen our response to this crime. In addition to improving vehicle security standards, the Taskforce will work together to ensure that robust measures are in place to prevent criminals exploiting the salvage process, and to stop access to devices that may be used to commit this theft.
'Having an updated understanding of vehicle security helps the public better understand the theft risk of new cars.
'I welcome the finding in Thatcham Research's work that some manufacturers are addressing vulnerabilities that exist, and would encourage others to see what more they could do. Together we can reduce the risks to the public that their vehicles will be stolen.'