Keyless start technology is letting thieves steal cars without even needing to take the keys first, according to reports.
By amplifying the key fob’s signal via relays from the house wall, within range of the fob, to the car itself, thieves can be away with someone’s pride and joy in seconds. It’s the latest facepalm-worthy loophole to be found in car systems that were designed for convenience, not security.
Many people hang their house and car keys on the wall by their front door, or put them in a bowl there. That means the key fob’s signal is often transmitting through the front wall of the house, if only very weakly. By relaying and boosting this signal, just like with in-house WiFi boosters, the car detects the key’s signature and starts on command. All aboard the failboat, etc.
BMWs and Peugeots are the most vulnerable to this new technique, says German research quoted by tracking system maker Tracker, but the Ford Focus, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf were also vulnerable – and that’s just among the cars that were actually tested from among 30 manufacturers’ ranges.
Apparently, the tools needed to steal a car this way are available for just £80 online, and until the engine starts it’s a theoretically silent process. We’d have to say that the old security tricks are still the best: put a steering lock on your car and thieves will simply choose an easier target. If you do have keyless entry, keep the key fob away from any exterior walls.