Further Worries For ‘Relay Attacks’ Following Latest Tests

Thu 20th Jun 2019

A new round of security testing on some of the UK’s newest cars has revealed serious concerns in more than half of those tested.

Thatcham Research has already tested the security systems on a number of cars earlier this year, in the wake of a growing number of ‘relay attack’ thefts in which a device can trick your car into thinking you are trying to enter it.

The cost of car theft payouts in the first quarter of 2019 was up 22 per cent on the same period in 2018 and twice what it was four years. The Association of British Insurers says the cost of car theft cost them £108m from January to March.

The worrying news will come as no surprise to the test team at Thatcham, who gave ‘poor’ ratings to four of the seven cars they tested recently. The Volvo S60, which has proven to be one of Europe’s most popular models in the last few years was one of those which is susceptible to attacks, whist the Mazda 3, Toyota Rav4 and DS3 Crossback were also rated as poor.

The three cars which received a superior rating include the Porsche 911 which has a technology in its key fob that deactivates if it doesn’t detect movement for a short period.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research, said: “These figures demonstrate why the automotive industry must move to secure keyless entry/start systems, many of which offer criminals the chance to quickly and silently circumvent otherwise robust physical security.”

A Volvo executive explained that the S60 used: “industry-standard technology with its keyless systems and applies advanced encryptions to limit any remaining risks”.

It’s important to note also that all seven models received a minimum ‘good’ security rating on models that did not have keyless entry systems.