Proximity Key Safety

As convenience technology such as smart or proximity keys becomes more common, so has the rise of technology based crime.A particular focus of criminals has been the theft and burglary of high value cars like BMW and Landrover who feature keyless systems. 

Thieves are using different wireless technology gadgets to capture vehicle key fobs’ radio transmissions and over-ride them. They can do this in a number of ways including:

Signal jamming – here they intercept the key fob’s signal and jam it. This ensures the car remains unlocked, even though you think you’ve locked it. Whilst the thieves may not be able to drive the car away, they can use the opportunity to steal valuables in your car.

Signal relaying – in this case the thieves’ technology transmits with your key fob and either clones or instructs it to unlock your car’s doors and allow the ignition to work. They can then drive the car away.

Key programming – every car comes with a standard diagnostic port. Computer hackers have developed devices that plug into the port, boot up a vehicle’s software and then programme a blank key fob. In keyless cars this can be used to start the engine as well as unlock doors.


Taking preventative measures against keyless car theft

There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent your car being stolen:

Make sure your car is properly locked and keep keys away from doors and windows. WUPD recommends placing them in metal box or a signal blocking (faraday) pouch which can prevent criminals amplifying the keys’ technology to gain entry to your vehicle.  

WUPD also recommends checking your car manual or speak to your dealer to find out if your key has combination button presses to switch its signal off.

Add physical barriers to your car’s protection such as a steering wheel lock, electronic gate or park in the garage.

Get a vehicle tracker added to your car. This may in fact be a criteria of your insurance policy. It means that, if your car is stolen, you and the Police will be able to track down its whereabouts more easily.

Consider adding security lighting to your home and driveway’s protection. This can act as a deterrent making your home less attractive to criminals.

Talk to your car dealer to see if the keyless element of your vehicle’s system can be disabled.

Car manufacturers are responding to the rise in keyless crime and developing new systems. IA few new models already have set-ups that aren’t vulnerable to relay attacks. The functionality is the same, but they cannot be fooled by relay devices.” If you are looking to purchase a new vehicle, it is worth checking which models give you greater protection.  Do, however, continue to take security precautions.  As manufacturers develop more secure solutions, criminals will research and develop ways to over-ride them.