The Changing Face of Car Theft: A Motivation to Improve Car Security



Paul Burnley
02/28/2013

Since car theft in Europe peaked in the early 1990s, manufacturers have increasingly fitted electronic immobilisers and other security features in response to the introduction of legislation, insurers’ demands for improved security, and the need to maintain their brand image.

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Whilst the initial motivation for improved security came from Europe, many car manufacturers have subsequently introduced some of the same security measures in other markets, often with the same positive effect on theft rates in these regions. The result of such global harmonisation is a wide range of cars fitted with similar security systems and a larger car park for criminals to study in order to find weaknesses which can then be exploited in a majority of markets.

In recent years, criminals have caught up with electronic immobiliser technology and have developed a range of equipment to facilitate car theft. These devices are typically designed to exploit weaknesses in the embedded software of the in-car systems. In parallel, third party companies have developed a plethora of devices, ostensibly for the vehicle locksmith market, which can include functions such as unlocking the car via CAN bus...


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