Thatcham Research has launched security ratings to help consumers better understand the theft risk of new cars against a backdrop of rising vehicle thefts.
In particular, the new ratings address whether measures relating to keyless entry/start vulnerability, have been adopted.
Six of the 11 vehicles launched this year have been given a “Poor” rating because the keyless entry/start system they have as an option has no security measures to prevent theft by criminals using the so-called “Relay Attack” technique. Without this option, the overall security features were classified as “Good”.
“This initiative focuses on addressing keyless entry/start vulnerability,” said Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research. “We’ve seen too many examples of cars being stolen in seconds from driveways. Now, any vehicle that is assessed against the new Thatcham Research Security Rating, and has a vulnerable keyless entry/start system, will automatically not achieve the best rating.
“Security has come a long way since vehicle crime peaked in the early 1990s. But the layers of security added over the years count for nothing when they can be circumvented instantly by criminals using digital devices. The shame is that most of the cars rated ‘Poor’ would have achieved at least a ‘Good’ rating had their keyless entry/start systems not been susceptible to the Relay Attack.”
The models rated as “Superior” include the Audi e-tron, Jaguar XE, Land Rover Evoque and Mercedes B-Class. Thatcham says these vehicle manufacturers have made significant strides in addressing keyless entry/start vulnerability, by either switching to a more secure wireless technology or introducing key fobs that go to sleep when idle.
“Part of the reason for the recent increase in vehicle theft is the rapid development in technology. Whilst this has dramatically improved the experience of drivers it has also allowed criminals to exploit weaknesses in the electronic security,” said National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Vehicle Crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty. “The significant reductions in vehicle crime in the 1990s were achieved by police working with manufacturers to design out crime with innovations like immobilisers, alarms and central locking. This approach is as valid today as it was then and we have been working in partnership with the industry by sharing intelligence and equipment seized from criminals.”