Watch out for the hi-tech car thieves. Technology has made vehicles safer and more efficient but thieves are exploiting weaknesses in the latest systems to compromise security and steal high-performance cars to order.

Car hacking

One of the most common hi-tech thefts, widely known as car hacking, targets vehicles with keyless ignition systems:

  • Thieves use a hand-held radio jammer to block the signal to remote locking car keys
  • This renders them useless and, although the driver will think they have locked their vehicle, it will remain unlocked
  • Thieves are then able to gain access to the vehicle and, within minutes, can re-programme a blank electronic key to start and steal the vehicle

Even if vehicle has a more traditional key-operated ignition. Thieves are still able to gain access to the vehicle and steal any valuables.

Access through the infotainment system

This latest potential threat is even more sinister. This exploits the infotainment systems that are becoming increasingly popular in vehicles. These systems allow drivers to play music, make phone calls and view vehicle information but technology security experts have demonstrated that it is possible to hack into them by sending data through the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals. This is particularly concerning as these infotainment systems are often connected to the same computer systems that manage the vehicle’s steering and braking. This means a hacker could take control of a vehicle and potentially put the occupants’ lives in danger.

Manufacturers and Cyber protection

Vehicle manufacturers are taking these threats seriously and are looking at ways to improve security and deter the criminals. In the UK, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, Thatcham Research, is also looking at ways to combat these hi-tech forms of vehicle crime. As well as using its position to influence vehicle and product manufacturers to take a coordinated approach to developing security solutions, it is also a member of the Cyber Security Consortium for Connected Vehicles.

How implementing some of the old basics of car protection could deter thieves

Reviving some of the security measures that were commonplace in the 1990s will also help to reduce the risk of theft from car hacking:

  • Park vehicles in a secure, well-lit area, preferably in a locked garage or compound if possible
  • A range of security devices are also available to deter thieves including alarms, immobilisers and tracking devices as well as steering wheel locks and locking wheel nuts

We can’t stop these unfortunate events from happening, but the insurance cover you have in place to protect you will have a huge impact on the outcome and can bring normality back into your daily life. Call our experienced insurance team on 01625 547754 or email