More new cars identified to be at risk of keyless theft

More new cars identified to be at risk of keyless theft
More new cars identified to be at risk of keyless theft

Four brand-new cars have had their security rating downgraded by testers because they are vulnerable to keyless theft.

Independent body Thatcham Research revealed that four of the seven cars assessed in its latest round of testing would have achieved “good” or higher rating had it not been for concerns around their keyless entry systems.

Read more: Keyless cars: How to stay one step ahead of tech-savvy criminals

Versions of the DS 3 Crossback, Mazda 3 and Toyota Rav4 without keyless entry were all rated good but those with keyless systems were downgraded to poor. The Volvo S60 was also rated poor with a keyless system despite gaining a “superior” rating without it.

Superior security

The BMW X7 and 7 Series and Porsche 911 all received superior ratings thanks to motion-sensitive key fobs which deactivate if they are kept still for a short period, preventing relay attacks which rely on intercepting the signal from the fob.

The BMW 7 Series was one of three cars to be given a superior rating with or without keyless entry

Thatcham said that, as with its first consumer ratings in March, many of the assessed cars did not have any security measures in place to prevent criminal exploitation of the keyless entry and start systems.

Rising theft claims

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research commented, “Theft claims paid by insurers in the first quarter of this year were at their highest for any quarter since 2012, with a payment made to a car crime victim every eight minutes.

“These figures demonstrate why the automotive industry must move to secure keyless entry/start systems, many of which offer criminals the chance to quickly and silently circumvent otherwise robust physical security.

Thatcham consumer security ratings June 2019

Vehicle Rating without keyless entry/start penalty Rating with keyless entry/start
BMW 7 Series SUPERIOR SUPERIOR
BMW X7 SUPERIOR SUPERIOR
DS 3 Crossback GOOD POOR
Mazda 3 GOOD POOR
Porsche 911 SUPERIOR SUPERIOR
Toyota RAV-4 GOOD POOR
Volvo S60 SUPERIOR POOR

“Were it not for the keyless entry/start vulnerability, all the cars assessed would have earned a good rating or better.”

Fixes coming through

Billyeald continued, “BMW and Porsche have acted decisively to secure vulnerable keyless entry/start systems. Fixes are not exclusive to premium cars, there are fixes coming through on the big-sellers too, with Ford recently announcing that it has introduced a new, more secure fob for its latest Fiesta and Focus model ranges.

“We’re seeing solutions applied to some new cars, let’s see them applied to all.”

Ford upgraded the system in its Focus and Fiesta models to combat relay attacks

Laurenz Gerger, motor policy adviser at the Association of British Insurers, said: “With car crime hitting new highs this year, a vehicle’s resistance to innovative thieves should be front of mind for any consumer looking to buy a keyless car.

“We hope that today’s results will encourage manufacturers and consumers alike to take action to thwart the growing issue of keyless car crime. Whilst progress has been positive, Thatcham’s ratings show that, for many vehicles, there’s still a long way to go to reduce the £1.2 million that is currently paid out every day for all car thefts.”

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