Thatcham is planning important updates to its New Vehicle Security Assessment (NVSA) in a bid to reduce keyless entry thefts.
The UK car safety body judges new models against the NVSA to inform which insurance group they should fall into.
New criteria will focus on keyless entry, with carmakers challenged to find fresh measures to tackle this and other digital attack methods.
“Car crime is on the increase, with intelligence suggesting that electronic compromise is a factor in as many as one in four vehicle thefts,” explained Thatcham’s chief technical officer, Richard Billyeald.
“In the 1990s, the NVSA effectively brought an end to a car crime epidemic by introducing alarms and double-locking door functions.
“Initiated in 1992, a year which saw 620,000 car thefts, this approach was instrumental in driving theft levels down by 80% up to 2016.
“In the same way, collaborative and concerted action from Thatcham Research, carmakers, Police and insurers will close the digital vulnerabilities exploited by today’s criminal gangs.”
To clamp down on chop shops – illicit garages where cars are dismantled for sale into the spare parts market – the NVSA criteria relating to parts identification will also be reviewed.
Billyeald continued: “CCTV footage of criminal gangs exploiting a vulnerability in keyless entry systems has been highly visible in recent months. However, we estimate that only 1% of cars on the road have this technology.
“Carmakers are already introducing keys with motion sensors which deactivate when stored, and new secure signal transmission technologies.
“The online availability of tools which criminals can plug into vehicles to programme a false key is also a concern.”
Motorists are advised to be vigilant and employ common sense measures such as:
1) Storing keys away from household entry points, hampering a criminal’s ability to relay its signal.
2) Using fob shielding devices, e.g. Faraday pouches.
3) Checking the car has locked correctly, e.g. with a locking sound or flashing indicators.