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Car Thieves Go High Tech, Clone NFC Fobs


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It’s every car owner’s worst nightmare: you wake in the morning, grab your keys and head to the parking lot, only to find that your car is no longer there. While new technology such as chipped ignition keys and Near Field Communications (NFC) key fobs have made cars more theft-resistant, they haven’t made cars theft-proof.

In fact, as Piston Heads points out, European fair trade rules have opened a back door of sorts for car thieves, one that allows them to create their own NFC fob to steal a car. We’re not experts (and if we were, we wouldn’t publish the info online), but it appears that all thieves need to snatch your ride is a diagnostic device that also reprograms blank NFC fobs.

Break into a car via conventional means, access the diagnostic port and you can program a new key in a matter of minutes. While BMWs seem to have the highest incidence of theft via this method, models from Opel, Renault, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota and Porsche are also reportedly susceptible to fob-cloning theft.

While Britain’s Society of Motor Manufacturers is working to make access to key reprogrammers more difficult, doing so may conflict with the EU’s competition rules, which allow independent facilities to access all data available through OBD ports.

Manufacturers are also working with both vendors and police agencies to address this growing method of high-tech auto theft. Until the industry invents a theft-proof car (which isn’t going to happen any time soon), the same common sense rules of avoiding car theft apply.

Always park in well lit areas, preferably in view of security cameras. Use a multi-layered approach to security, combining a car alarm (with a shock sensor) with a steering wheel locking device like The Club. Finally, if your car isn’t equipped with vehicle tracking (via a service like OnStar or BlueLink), consider investing in a tracking device like Lojack.
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