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Some Transponder Keys Have a Security Flaw

Automakers have switched to transponder keys and smart keys because they are supposed to be safer. It is certainly true that these types of keys do make it harder for the average criminal to take off with your car.

However, they are not invincible.

A recent post on the Car and Driver blog reveals hackers have been able to explot a flaw in 25 makes of vehicle, including common brands like:

  • Audi
  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Honda
  • Isuzu
  • Pontiac
  • Kia
  • Volkswagon
  • Volvo

Many luxury brands like Ferrari and Porche made the list as well.

Here at Omega Locksmith we felt it was important to share this news with our readers. After all, those of us who have cars really rely on them, and need to be aware of anything that could make it easier for thieves to take them.

Some manufacturers–notably, GM–have taken steps to close this security loophole. Others have failed to address it, even though they’ve apparently known about it since 2012.

There is not a lot you can do about the loophole — if a hacker car thief really wants your car he’s probably going to get it. Fortunately, most car thieves are not highly sophisticated hackers. Most are opportunists. The vast majority of cars are stolen because they’re left running (which is one reason “warming up your car” on winter mornings can be dangerous).

The biggest issue most people will face with a transponder key is the loss of a key or a key malfunction which requires them to call an automotive locksmith for a replacement.

However, if you are truly concerned it might be a good idea to update your auto insurance policy. If you’re carrying the bare minimum, for example, then you might want to choose a comprehensive policy that will reimburse you in the event that a hacker-thief does manage to hack your transponder key.

It is worth noting, however, that no active hacker-thieving incidents have made it into any news story. To date, there just don’t seem to be any criminals out there who are actually exploiting the loophole. It may require more time, effort, equipment and trouble than it’s worth.

This loophole has simply been exposed by cyber-security experts. In time, we’d expect more automakers to invest in closing it. For now, it’s just something to be aware of…not something to lose sleep over.