Car thieves hack into keyless cars in spate of London robberies

Thefts of cars that use keyless fobs to gain access are on the rise after criminals gained the ability to hack into the car’s onboard computer and it is causing some luxury car owners to be refused insurance.

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers [SMMT] report that organised crime syndicates have been able to bypass the onboard security by using software only meant for mechanics and start vehicles using the ignition button present in many high end models, such as Range Rovers and BMWs.

"The criminal act of stealing vehicles through the re-programming of remote-entry keys is an on-going industry-wide problem," said Jaguar Land Rover, according to the BBC. "Our line-up continues to meet the insurance industry requirements as tested and agreed with relevant insurance bodies. Nevertheless we are taking this issue very seriously and our engineering teams are actively working in collaboration with insurance bodies and police forces to solve this continuously evolving problem."

It has come to a head with one Range Rover Evoque driver telling The Times that they were refused cover due to the fact the car couldn’t be parked in a garage or secured location.

On the whole car theft is down with figures from the UK Office for National Statistics showing that thefts are dropped from 318,000 in 2002 to 77,500 in 2013 though London has seen a spike and many of those vehicles stolen use this new technology.

One security expert, on the other hand, is still somewhat baffled by what the nature of the problem actually is but are calling for all new technologies of this ilk to be completely secured before released into the wild.

“What is unclear at this time is whether this is related to a software/hardware vulnerability or another weakness in their system” Vicente Diaz, Principal Security Researcher, Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky, told ITProPortal.com.

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“This is a timely reminder of how fast times and technology are moving; how cars are implementing more and more technology for different systems and how attackers are actively looking for ways of bypassing security mechanisms implemented, for their own gain. This means, more than ever, that security should be a priority in any new systems or designs, rather than the afterthought it often is,” Diaz added.

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