There's not much that people can do to prevent someone stealing their vehicle with this hack.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, which fights insurance fraud, has discovered a method for thieves to steal vehicles from a significant number of automakers. Using a so-called “mystery device,” a nefarious person could capture the code from the key fob and gain access to the automobile. Modern push-button-start systems would then allow the criminal to drive away.

The NICB obtained one of these devices from “a third-party security expert from an overseas company.” It consists of two parts. One portion detects the key fob’s code, and needs to be within a close distance of it to work. The other half broadcasts the data back at the vehicle. The gadgets are supposed to be for automakers and security experts to check the vulnerability of the locking system.

The NICB tested the device on 35 new and used vehicles from various automakers. In 19 cases, the investigators were able to unlock the model, and they were able to drive away 18 of those examples. In 12 instances, the researchers were able to shut off the engine and restart it. The bureau's evaluation found that four 2017 Chevrolet vehicles were immune from this hack.

However, the group admitted that this test was not scientific. There are other versions of these devices that could be even more effective or work on different vehicles.

A separate group of researchers found that a similar hack worked on around 100 million Volkswagen Group vehicles. The group discovered company used just four cryptographic keys for its fobs.

“We’ve now seen for ourselves that these devices work,” NICB President Joe Wehrle said in the group's announcement. “Maybe they don’t work on all makes and models, but certainly on enough that car thieves can target and steal them with relative ease."

The only way to prevent these thefts on existing vehicles is to keep criminals from getting your key fob’s code.  To avoid being a victim, the NICB recommends common-sense tactics. For example, people should hide valuables in their automobile and keep an eye out for anyone suspicious.

Source: The National Insurance Crime Bureau

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