Outdated Security is Making Car Theft Simple

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Oct 05, 2015 05:00 pm PST

Range Rover and BMW theft rates soar in London

A security expert claimed that the recent rise in thefts of keyless vehicles was down to a ‘failure of security innovation’ by the automobile industry over the last 25 years.

Dr Akhtar Khalil, founder of auto-security firm My Smart Remote, believes that billions of pounds could be saved in annual insurance payouts.

A spate of thefts from wealthy districts across London this year has highlighted how outdated technology across the industry has affected even owners of high-end vehicles, with recent CCTV footage showing an £80,000 ($123,000) BMW being stolen in just 23 seconds.

Bloomberg recently revealed Volkswagen sued researchers intending to report vulnerabilities affecting cars using the Megamos transponder, including Volkswagen-owned luxury brands as well as Fiat, Honda and Volvo models.

The weakness affecting the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips used in these transponders was discovered in 2012.

Thieves typically bypass security by cloning keys, jamming trackers, or by cutting power to the system and damaging it. They fool the lock or immobilizer into thinking they are a legitimate owner by breaking codes or copying keys.

If you think someone has your email password or PayPal login, you might quickly change it. But changing vehicle security is more difficult, due to clunky systems and the desire of manufacturers to funnel everything through authorised dealers. Security experts often deride passwords as ‘toothbrushes’ – old hat tools that need changing regularly – though existing vehicle security is so cumbersome there is no equally simple way to protect consumers if they believe their keys have been cloned. Owners are left dependent on car electricians or suppliers if they wish to change their keys or immobilisers, due to the time, cost and effort involved in changing a security system on the basis of doubt.

Car insurance providers question customers’ use of systems such as immobilisers, trackers and other alarm systems, which are products of the 80s and 90s.

Ami Shpiro, founder of London-based tech investment hub Innovation Warehouse, said :

“In battling security, the automobile industry is like an oil tanker trying to race a Formula 1 car. It needs more nimble, oven-ready solutions and the emerging base of security experts helping protect data, and financial businesses will offer those solutions. It’s vital they listen and begin to engage.”

Akhtar Khalil, founder of My Smart Remote, said :

“New security solutions have to avoid being subjected to techniques currently used by thieves. The continued insistence at using outdated methods is holding back innovation.

“Solutions like trackers come into action when the car has actually been stolen. Therefore thieves jam their signals or try to cut them off. But My Smart Remote focuses on a mechanism that takes action to prevent a car being stolen in the first place.

“My Smart Remote (MSR) is a security system which works by a smartphone communicating by app with a kit installed inside the car. Security can be activated or deactivated on the car through the remote device. Jamming the signals, cutting the power supply or damaging this system does not compromise the security, and MSR also gives a solution to key cloning. As opposed to existing systems, in MSR changing keys is as simple as changing a password.”[su_box title=”About My Smart Remote” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″]My Smart RemoteMy Smart Remote” is a system in which a mobile application interacts with a Bluetooth based hardware kit installed inside the car. This provides enhanced car security and gives users the ability to control and monitor various car functions (including engine start/off, AC, heater, doors lock/unlock, trunk, panic, headlights and many more). My Smart Remote is the solution to the challenges that cannot be solved by existing car security solutions.[/su_box]