Keyless vehicle thefts are on the rise – even new cars can be easily broken

Despite the constant development and reassurance of manufacturers that security of keyless systems is improving, it is still much easier to break a keyless security system compared to a system using the physical key. The current ADAC study of more than 500 cars proves that a new car simply cannot resist thieves.

The well-known organization ADAC (General German Autoclub) has again tested 500 new vehicles against electronic theft by breaking the keyless entry system. Only 5% of the tested vehicles successfully passed the comprehensive test, even though this technology is no longer new. For several years, official statements from motorists have assured motorists that new and redesigned keyless systems can no longer be misused. As the new findings show, the truth is completely different and only a real fraction of manufacturers have taken the necessary steps to secure the system against abuse.

How is security breached?

The convenience of the keyless entry and start solution lies in the automatic recognition of the driver based on the code sent by the keyless tag. This code is recorded by one of the vehicle’s antennas and the vehicle can be unlocked by pressing a button on the handle. As comfortable as for the owner, however, unlocking the vehicle is for the offender himself. Equipment for so-called A “signal relaying” consisting of two units can be composed of commonly available components for a few hundred according to the instructions available on the Internet.

The thief then just has to follow the driver after getting out of the vehicle and after his distance read the code from the key, which is enough for a few moments of walking near him. The second offender transmits the read and extended key signal close to the vehicle, comfortably opens and starts. Although the started vehicle displays the error “missing key” after the end of the transmission, it will be fully mobile until the engine is switched off. The perpetrator can theoretically take the vehicle anywhere, only on condition that he does not switch off the engine during refueling.

 

Theft with a double risk

In addition to the very theft of a new vehicle, which is the clear and perhaps most painful consequence, theft with the keyless system can have other unpleasant effects. A common tactic of thieves focusing on vehicle theft is the so-called car cooling down. In this scenario, the perpetrator will not take the freshly and comfortably stolen car directly to the other side of the country, or to a cutting shop. On the contrary, the vehicle takes only a few blocks from the original location and leaves it discreetly parked in front of the shopping center, for example. The reason for this tactic is the fact that more and more owners are protecting their vehicles with location devices, which in the event of theft would lead the police directly to the perpetrator’s lair. The parked vehicle is often found shortly after the theft and, thanks to the keyless system, does not bear any signs of theft. However, this happy ending can quickly turn into a nightmare if you report the theft and the insurance company has taken the necessary steps. As the owner of a vehicle without damage, which was found just a short distance from the original parking space, it will be very difficult to refute the allegations of insurance fraud.

 

 

How manufacturers try to prevent abuse

Of course, vehicle manufacturers are well aware of the potential for misuse of keyless systems. However, the vast majority were satisfied with the addition of a motion sensor, which turns off the transmission of the key shortly after it stops moving. Although this solution prevents the extension of the signal with the key hanging behind your door as in the known videos, it does not work at all against theft “in motion”. At the same time, especially in cities with crowded alleys or public transport, it is not a problem to walk undisturbed near the owner of the vehicle for a few tens of seconds. A much more secure way to secure a keyless system is UWB technology, ie ultra-wideband communication. The UWB keyless pendant emits a signal whose extension is immediately recognized by the vehicle, which simply stops responding to the extended signal. It is the vehicles with this technology that are the only ones that have passed the ADAC test. The technology is currently used by only a minimum of cars and only on selected models of their vehicles.

 

How can I protect my vehicle?

If your vehicle does not have UWB technology, do not despair because there is a solution for you too. The advanced Pandora alarm security can complement this and many other safety technologies for your vehicle. Encrypted broadband communication, a perfect overview of the condition and position of the vehicle 24/7 in the application of your smartphone, the possibility of constant guarding of your vehicle by Pandora servers. These and many other features ensure that your vehicle stays yours in all conditions. Thanks to the control with a comfortable and minimalist authorization pendant, it is also not necessary to give up the comfort of a modern vehicle by installing mechanical security.
If you are interested in securing your keyless vehicle by Pandora, do not hesitate to contact our distribution and dealer partners.

If you are interested in installing the Pandora keyless entry, do not hesitate to contact us or fill out a non-binding form.

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