That will be a bit of a shock for owners of (especially) expensive cars: the smart ‘keys’ of those cars that automatically unlock the vehicle when they get close are very easy to crack. That says car service inspection authority Kiwa SCM against NOS . Almost all cars from before 2017 with such a system can be circumvented with a relatively easy to make device by car thieves and, according to Kiwa SCM, even 90 percent of the cars produced this year are still vulnerable.
Even extending the range
A smart key is little more than a portable radio mast with an extremely short range. As a thief you can fabricate a device that receives the signal from the key and then transmits it via its own antenna, similar to a WiFi repeater. By doing so, they only have to get close enough to the key to pick up the signal, after which they can send that signal to the car remotely. Certainly if your car key is hanging or lying in the hallway at the front door, it is a breeze to get up at the door and to send the signal to your car.
If the car is open you can also start it without problems in a number of cases and then you have left as a thief. You do not have a key, but that does not matter, because once started a car stops for safety reasons only when it is switched off and not when no contact can be made with the key.
The NOS survey shows that there is an impression among insurers, experts and the police that the number of squatters that are put in this way increases. There are no full figures, but especially in the more expensive segment, it happens more and more. Because sometimes just on the spot things like airbags and entertainment systems from cars are met but there is no trace of vomit is that insurance technical quite difficult.
That is why Kiwa SCM has also decided to inspect cars with this type of proven insecure smart key systems from next year. That does not mean that they should not be sold, but it does mean that it will be significantly harder to get those cars insured. In the segment above 50,000 euros, it often means that an insurer does not pay in the event of theft or damage. Then as a car owner you still have to install an extra security system yourself. Already sold cars are not retroactively disapproved, but that does not mean that you do not get a hassle with the insurance if something goes wrong.
The automakers are now to a greater or lesser extent busy trying to improve their systems. Brands such as BWM, Audi and Mercedes already have extra precautions in the new models to prevent smart keys from being misused in this way. If you plan to buy a (more expensive) car next year, then definitely something to think about.