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Hacking vulnerability to affect insurance ratings

Insurance ratings for new cars will be updated in 2019, recognising for the first time how vulnerable they are to hacking and keyless theft – said to be a factor in a quarter of incidents.

Keyless theft

Thatcham Research is assessing vulnerability to hacking and keyless theft.

Thatcham Research said changes to the New Vehicle Security Assessment (NVSA) programme would encourage manufacturers to overcome the latest theft techniques, such as hacking via the diagnostics port, jamming lock signals from keyfobs, or relaying keyless entry signals to gain access.

The organisation said carmakers were already working on software updates and measures to tackle the problem, including keyfobs with motion detectors which deactivate when they are stored. It is advising drivers to speak to dealers about any upgrades applying to their cars, and suggesting keys should be stored away from doors or kept in a Faraday pouch so the signal can’t be relayed.

Thatcham Research is also calling for closer regulation of the sale of devices which can be used to hack into vehicles, or create additional keys allowing them to be stolen, saying these have no place outside a workshop.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer, explained: “Car crime is on the increase, with intelligence suggesting that electronic compromise is a factor in as many as one in four vehicle thefts. Collaborative and concerted action from Thatcham Research, carmakers, police and insurers will close the digital vulnerabilities exploited by today’s criminal gangs.”

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.