EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

Over the past few years, car theft has increased exponentially.  Car theft insurance claims have risen by 20%, and a large portion of those claims cite keyless entry systems as the mechanism enabling the theft. Thieves who are cyber savvy can exploit keyless entry systems with relative ease. 

How this type of car theft works: 

Keyless entry systems rely on radio signal communications between your key fob and a sensor within your car. When you press the key fob, and your car’s sensor recognizes the signal, the doors unlock/lock, as desired. 

Criminals can use what are called “relay attacks” to pick up local short-wave radio signals, which they can amplify, and use to trick the car into thinking that you’re authentically using your key fob to unlock it.

How to prevent keyless car theft?  

Some car manufacturers are taking measures to prevent key fobs from emitting signals that hackers can exploit. To protect your vehicle from cyber savvy thieves, follow these guidelines:

1) Watch where you place your key fob. Place your key fob away from your home’s windows and doors. A best practice is to invest in a Faraday bag, or alternatively, to keep your key fob in a metal container, such as an old cookie tin. 

2) Add layers of security to your vehicle. Consider outfitting your car with a steering wheel lock or a wheel clamp. You may also want to consider investing in a Thatcham approved device. 

3) Beware of hackers. Should you skip connecting your car to a smart phone app? Maybe. If you do choose to connect your vehicle to an app, be sure to use strong passwords and refrain from providing app access to others. 

For more on this story, visit Forbes.