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BMW Addresses Key Cloning Issue On Select Models


2011 BMW X6

2011 BMW X6

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In July, we brought you news that car thieves (in Great Britain, anyway) had gone high-tech, stealing new cars via the use of NFC key reprogramming devices. Instead of relying on old-fashioned methods to steal certain new cars, today’s thieves just need access to the car’s diagnostic port, a blank NFC key and a key reprogrammer.

BMW models built between 2007 and September of 2011 are the cars of choice for these thieves, and the Bavarian automaker has just announced a software fix that will eliminate the chance of NFC key theft on X5 and X6 models.

Per Auto Express, BMW dealers in Great Britain will upload the revised software to owners of affected vehicles at no charge. While that solves the problem for owners of X5 and X6 models, it won’t do anything to resolve the issue on other BMWs.

The company advises that a software upgrade is in the works for its other products, and is expected to be ready within the next eight weeks. In the interim, BMW is advising owners to park cars in a locked garage, or under the watchful eye of closed-circuit cameras.

European Union laws on restraint of trade allow independent repair shops to purchase the key encoders, which also makes the devices available to car thieves. While some want legislation that will require independent shops to register the devices and log their use, such plans aren’t imminent.

It’s not only BMW owners who need to be concerned, either, since certain Volkswagen, Opel, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Toyota models are also prone to theft via fob-cloning.

Even after the software updates are installed, expect to see a high number of break-ins in BMW vehicles. Since the modification is transparent, thieves won’t know which cars have been updated and which ones haven’t. In other words, even after the fix, BMW models will still be seen as targets of opportunity, so park appropriately.
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