Latest Security Fix Is Only Short Term Plan Say Experts

Tue 12th Nov 2019

The latest security fix in the battle against relay attacks may not be a long term solution says the organisation responsible for rating the security on new vehicles.

Thatcham Research recently praised the ‘sleep mode’ fix which saw keyless fobs deactivate on car brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Ford and Volkswagen. The change is leading to many of the newer cars gaining ‘Superior’ ratings by Thatcham Research for ‘all-round security and the presence of a relay attack fix’.

The problem of relay attack thefts has seen a sharp spike in car crime, with the AA suggesting earlier this year that vehicle thefts have risen by 9% - with the rise blamed on the security flaw of keyless entry systems.

The Association of British Insurers also pointed out that the 22% rise in insurance claims could be due to keyless relay thefts.

Richard Billyead, Thatcham Research’s chief technical officer, said: “ “Some fobs go to sleep in one or two minutes, others in 15 or even as long as 30 minutes. The motion sensor fob is a good short-term option but the goal for car makers must be to design out the vulnerability entirely. Until then, a fundamental security flaw remains.”

He added: “We urge manufacturers to bring keyless technology to market in secure form and remove from drivers the onus to provide additional security.

While the luxury brands who introduced keyless entry systems are now working to change the technology there are still many drivers who have vulnerable cars and Thatcham’s Billyead makes the following recommendations.


1. Consider purchasing a Faraday pouch and using it to store their fob at night. Owners are advised to test that it works for themselves

2. Check the driver’s manual to see if the fob can be switched off completely

3. Store fobs, spares included, away from household entry points