Car theft is on the rise. According to ABI, in the first three months of 2019, insurers paid out to car crime victims every eight minutes. What is being done?
Is your car your pride and joy?
You work hard, so it only seems fair that you might spend some of your hard-earned money on a high-end motor. You would expect an expensive vehicle to have top-rated security. However, car security experts, Thatcham Research, have rated 18 cars so far in 2019 for their security and half of them were classified as ‘poor’, and one ‘unacceptable’.
Thatcham even reported some instances where cars were stolen in a matter of seconds from people’s driveways with thieves exploiting a security flaw in keyless entry technology.
What’s the issue?
A keyless entry or start system does not require you to put a key into the lock or ignition to open or turn on your vehicle, but instead uses a radio signal to let the car know that the key is in the vicinity.
The radio signal emitted by the car generally has a range of 2 metres. However, savvy thieves have found a way to exploit a flaw in this technology, a technique known as the ‘relay attack’.
A relay attack generally requires two people. One stands next to the car and uses a device that relays the radio signal to the second person, who holds a second device near the house. This second device is looking to amplify the signal of the key inside the house. The car is tricked into thinking that the key and owner is nearby and allows entry, and subsequently, lets the car be turned on.
What is being done?
Thatcham Research automatically categorises any new car’s security rating as poor if the relay attack flaw has not been rectified by the manufacturer. Luckily, many of the more expensive car models on the market are starting to use techniques to overcome the security breach.
Some of the fixes to avoid a relay attack include:
Sleep mode – If the key is idle for a period of time, it deactivates its ability to respond to a signal to open or start the vehicle. It will automatically ‘wake up’ when the owner picks up the key and moves towards the car.
Different technology – The other common work around is to use alternative wireless technology to radio waves. For example, Ultra Wide Band or Bluetooth Low Energy.
Of the latest cars security rated by Thatcham, both BMW and Porsche models were rated ‘Superior’, so if you are looking at purchasing one of these makes, you should be safe.
What to look out for when purchasing your next car
2018 saw a rise of 27% in insurance claims from car theft. In fact, 2018 saw vehicle thefts at their highest rate for a decade. There are some simple ways to help you protect your current vehicle:
Speak to your dealer – When purchasing a new vehicle, ask your dealer about the security features that protect your car from a relay attack. Also ask about ongoing software updates to allow you to be protected from future security flaws.
Old fashioned security – You could go old school and use traditional theft deterrents, such as steering wheel locks.
Shielding devices – Devices that work like a Faraday cage should interrupt radio signals. You can buy pouches for your key.
Be savvy – A relay device can generally reach 10-15 metres inside your home, so don’t keep your key near the front door.
Insurance – For when all risk mitigation plans fail, make sure you have a good insurance policy that will cover your prized vehicle.
Speak to the team at All Med Pro about your high value motor insurance.