There were 108,542 motor vehicle thefts in England and Wales between March 2021 and March 2022. Car safety expert Ken Munro gives his advice:
1. Be aware of the possibility of attacks through vehicle networks
Ken explains the dangers behind these sophisticated attacks: “We are starting to see attacks on cars through headlights, rear view mirrors and other unusual vectors.
“If not properly protected, some vehicles can allow a thief to plug into the headlight wiring and run a code that allows the car to be unlocked and then the engine can be started.”
2. Protect your keyless entry car from ‘relay’ attacks
Many cars offer keyless entry and are wired to automatically unlock when the key is within a short distance of the car. Thieves can use a device to trick the car into thinking the key is nearby, with the relay device unlocking the car and starting the engine. This is done by capturing the signal that your car key emits.
Ken explains: “The many cases of theft through keyless entry ‘relay’ attacks are a problem. The auto industry was alerted to this many years ago, but initially did not address the problem, thinking that car thieves were not skilled enough to carry out such an attack.
“They did not appreciate that relay kits would be created and sold on the black market, putting a relay attack in the hands of any non-tech savvy thief.”
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of sophisticated criminals stealing your car:
· Keep the car key away from the car while you are home.
· Turn off wireless signals on the keychain when not in use.
3. Don’t put your keys in the microwave: physical security protections cannot be bypassed
In addition to protecting against modern-style attacks like relay attacks and hacking into car technology, old-school security measures are also important.
Ken also recommends safety protections, like a steering wheel lock.
One worrying suggestion was to put the keys in the microwave; While this will protect the radio signal from thieves, the chance of accidentally destroying the keys is high.
4. Block any EV chargers as these may be more specific with rising electricity costs
As electric vehicles become more popular, crimes related to electric vehicles have also increased. Whether cars are targeted for their batteries, their chargers, or because of their high retail value, electric vehicles are an attractive prospect for a seasoned car thief.
Ken adds: “EV car batteries are extremely valuable, but can be difficult to remove quickly. It’s not about quickly jacking up a car on the street and removing, say, a catalytic converter; batteries are heavy and bulky. That said, criminals will quickly innovate.
5. Do not leave the keys within reach of the mailbox
Keeping your car keys near the front door and within reach of thieves is a big mistake, no matter if it’s a classic key or a keyless fob.
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