Smart Phones and Tablets: The Newest Way to Steal a Car

Just when you thought there were enough anti-theft devices on a new vehicle to thwart a theft, car thieves have found a new approach. By using a laptop, tablet or smart phone to enter a vehicle's entry and ignition systems, thieves can unlock the car and drive off without a hint of suspicion.

"Make sure you have updated security measures in place to control access to your onboard computers, including a remote shutdown system," warns Dani Liblang a staunch consumer advocate and founder of The Liblang Law Firm in Birmingham, MI. “These kinds of thefts are becoming more common.”

Today's car thefts are using tablets and smart phones to hack into car's entry and ignition systems. They best way to protect yourself is to stay on top of your car's manufacturer' security updates. Contact your dealer and see if any new recalls or manufacturer campaigns address fixes to the electronic systems.

Dani Liblang, Founder The Liblang Law Firm P.C.

"We think it is becoming the new way of stealing cars," said Roger Morris, a vice president at the National Insurance Crime Bureau in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "The public, law enforcement and the manufacturers need to be aware. Remote car hacking via a smart phone is a seamless and easy form of entry. "

Last year several people had their Jeep vehicles stolen by laptop computers in Texas by thieves who could break the codes guarding the ignition lock. This prompted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to put out a request for hackers to help the corporation enhance its cyber security system from the inside out.

Even soccer star David Beckham had his BMW X5 stolen by thieves in suburban Madrid, Spain. The hackers found the code to the RFID chip imbedded in the key and started the car with a remote computer while Beckman was eating a meal with his two sons.

Paul Eisenstein, editor of the says that today's vehicles are computers on wheels with more micro processing power than found in a typical home or office. It is not uncommon for a vehicle to have more than a 100 million lines of code to control everything from engine management systems to onboard infotainment. With onboard wireless internet, the hackers have instant access to codes they could store in a cloud.

The question of who would take responsibility for cyber thefts has yet to be decided in court. Is it the individual who hasn't purchased an adequate theft system or is it the manufacturer that hasn't installed sufficient safeguards for its buyers? Manufacturers are working with global experts to meet this problem before thefts increase around the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has urged automakers to put aside competitive issues to stop cyber thefts.

What can drivers do? Some articles recommend keeping your key in the freezer or wrapping it in tinfoil. However according to Liblang, you are best to contact your dealer and see if any new recalls or manufacturer campaigns address fixes to the electronic systems. You can stay up on the latest information about hackers through the Internet Storm Center, a global cooperative community,

Stay alert - is the best advice of all. If you run into problems call a good lawyer like Dani Liblang of Liblang and Associates, Birmingham.  

Source: Curtis & Associates