Keyless Car Theft: Gone In 60 Seconds, Broken Into in 10

Keyless cars are a boon and a bane. It’s so nice to not have to fumble for keys, especially when your hands are full with groceries, coffee, phone, et cetera. Yet, the system is so easily hacked, with just a few simple tools that can be bought off the Internet.

What Car? wanted to know how easily it can be done and, since they can’t exactly ask the thieves to demonstrate, got two security experts to use the same kind of simple tech that car thieves are now using to gain access to keyless cars. One electronic device is used to detect the key fob signal, another to repeat the signal directed towards the car to open the door, and also good old-fashioned lock picks. They measured the time it took to open the car door and start the engine, simulating how long it might take to first break into the car and then steal it.

Image source: What Car?

Compared to stealing a car with outdated locks and ignition, the tests showed that stealing a keyless car could take up to 90% faster—ie. gone in a mere ten seconds. And that happened to the DS 3 Crossback Puretech 155 Ultra Prestige. According to What Car?: “The car’s flush-fitting door handles popped out to give our thieves access after just five seconds. It was also easy for them to repeat the code to start the engine using the push-button starter.”

The cars that successfully thwarted thievery were the Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost 140 ST-LineX, Audi TT RS Roadster and 2018 BMW X3 xDrive20i M Sport. These used key fobs with an in-built motion sensor and were deactivated when stationary. That said, if the key fob was active, the car can still be broken into and driven away.

The most interesting and effective security system from the bunch of cars tested was that of the Land Rover Discovery SD6 306 HSE’s. The car transmitted a wide range of frequencies simultaneously, effectively preventing the signal from being detected. Whilst it could still be broken into, the security experts could not start its engine at all. A Land Rover Discovery Sport was also tested, and was stolen in 30 seconds—so, not all Land Rovers are equal in this regard.

Image source: What Car?

To read about the tests in detail, go to What Car’s.

Meanwhile, car manufacturers are fully aware that keyless entry makes the car more vulnerable to break-ins and theft, and are working on new key fob tech to improve security. Meanwhile, if you own a keyless car, don’t fret. Go here for tips on how to prevent keyless car theft:

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