There were 108,542 motor vehicle thefts in England and Wales between March 2021 and March 2022. Car security expert Ken Munro gives his tips:
1. Be vigilant against the possibility of attacks through the vehicle networks
Ken explains the dangers behind these sophisticated attacks: “We are starting to see attacks against cars through headlights, wing mirrors, and other unusual vectors.
“If not correctly protected, some vehicles may allow a thief to connect to wiring in the headlight and run code that allows the car to be unlocked and then start the engine.”
2. Protect your keyless entry car from ‘relay’ attacks
Many cars offer keyless entry and are wired to unlock automatically when the key is within a short distance of the car. Thieves can use a device to fool the car into thinking the key is nearby, with the relay device then 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 is a problem. The auto industry was alerted to this many years ago but failed to address the problem at first, thinking that car thieves were not sufficiently skilled to effect such an attack.
“They didn’t appreciate that relay kits would be created and sold on the black market, bringing a relay attack into the capability of any non-techie thief.”
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of sophisticated criminals stealing your car:
· Keep the car key well away from the car while you’re at home.
· Switch off wireless signals on the key fob when it’s not being used.
3. Don’t put your keys in the microwave - Physical security protections cannot be overlooked
As well as protecting against modern-style attacks such as relay attacks and hacking the car’s technology, old-school security measures are important too.
Ken recommends security protections too, such as a steering wheel lock.
One concerning suggestion was to put keys in the microwave; whilst this will indeed shield the radio signal from thieves, the chance of accidentally destroying the keys is high.
4. Lock any EV chargers as these may be more targeted with the increase in electricity costs
As EVs become more popular, crimes related to EVs have also increased. Whether it’s targeting the cars for their batteries, their chargers, or due to their high sale value, EVs are an attractive prospect for a seasoned car thief.
Ken adds: “EV car batteries are extremely valuable, but can be hard to remove quickly. It’s not a matter of quickly jacking up a car in the street and removing, say, a catalytic convertor; the batteries are heavy and bulky. That said, criminals will innovate quickly.
5. Don’t leave keys within easy reach of the letterbox
Keeping the keys to your car near the front door and within reach of thieves is a big mistake, no matter whether it’s a classic key or a keyless fob.