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More cars at risk of theft, including a Toyota, a Mazda and a Volvo

Four new cars are rated poor for security, after tests show the keyless entry systems are making them highly vulnerable to thieves

Four out of seven cars have been rated ‘poor’ for security in tests by UK research organisation Thatcham Research, after the cars were found to be at high risk of being stolen because of their keyless entry systems and inadequate safety measures.

The security tests were launched by Thatcham Research earlier this year to help drivers find out which cars are susceptible to being stolen, and also to encourage carmakers to secure their vehicles against the security flaws.

Models from Toyota, Mazda, Volvo and DS received a ‘poor’ rating, while newly launched cars from BMW and Porsche received the best rating – ‘superior’.

Keep reading to find out more about the cars that have been tested.

Our tough tests reveal the top cars for 2019


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New cars with ‘poor’ security

Thatcham’s tests found that thieves can easily trick these new cars into thinking that your key is closer than it really is, using the relay method.

This enables thieves to lengthen the signal produced by your key, fooling your car into thinking it’s nearby, so they can unlock, start and steal your car.

On the tested models, keyless entry was offered as an option or as standard-fit.

When bought without the keyless entry system fitted, the overall security features of the cars ‘would have earned a good rating or better’, explains Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research, Richard Billyeald.

So if you’re in the market for a new car and want keyless entry, Thatcham Research is advising you to ask at the dealership if there’s a fix available to protect it from the relay attack.

Want to know if your new car will be reliable? Make sure you check – see our car reviews.

The Mazda 3 was one of the four new cars to be rated ‘poor’ for security.

Thatcham’s security test ratings

Thatcham’s security tests assess the keyless entry and start system of the cars. It then assigns ratings to the cars. These are:

  • Superior, Good, Basic, Poor, or Unacceptable

New cars with ‘superior’ security

The BMW 7 Series, BMW X7 and Porsche 911 all received a ‘superior’ rating. These cars have a motion-sensor-enabled key fob which prevents criminals from being able to use a relay attack kit.

The BMW 7 series and the Porsche 911 both received a ‘superior’ security rating.

If the sensor detects the fob hasn’t moved for a short period, it idles and goes into sleep mode. This prevents criminals with a relay attack kit from extending the range of the signal between your car and key.

Thatcham Research’s Billyeald comments: ‘We’re seeing solutions applied to some new cars, let’s see them applied to all.’

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