Video: Thieves Steal Keyless BMW In Less Than 3 Minutes
Hackers can program key fobs through OBD port
Unfortunately, that's the exact predicament a BMW 1 Series M owner found themselves in after their $46,000 car was stolen by hackers in under 3 minutes from their own driveway.
In a post in the enthusiast forum 1Addicts, the victim posted the above video and a description of how the thieves were able to so easily steal this sophisticated and seemingly technologically sound vehicle.
"[They accessed] the BMW OBD port in the footwell by breaking the glass, reaching in and using a device to reprogram a blank key fob. The car was simply then unlocked and pushed off the drive and driven away."
Keyless vehicles are pretty simple. The owner has a unique key fob that, when recognized by the car, allows the driver to start the engine with the push of a button, instead of the turn of a physical key.
But a keyless vehicle's OBD port, or on-board diagnostics port, can be exploited by thieves. If a thief can access the OBD port by either using a RF jammer or simply breaking a window to get in the car, he can program a blank key fob to be recognized by the vehicle, allowing him to start it and drive off.
You can see how quickly this can be done in this YouTube video.
Clearly, the thieves in this video knew what they were doing, and it highlights a troubling trend in the United Kingdom. There has been a noticeable spike in keyless BMW thefts and it has some owners really worried, especially since the German automaker has acknowledged the problem, but doesn't seem to be offering any solutions, publicly stating that theft is simply something premium automakers have to deal with.
"The battle against increasingly sophisticated thieves is a constant challenge for all car makers. Desirable, premium-branded cars, like BMW and its competitors, have always been targeted," BMW told Jalopnik.
With many cars no longer requiring physical keys, the sophisticated thief can fairly easily circumvent alarm systems and drive off. Concerned keyless car owners can prevent this by looking into disabling the OBD port (a BMW owner provided an example of how to do this here). You can enable it if you need to take your car in for maintenance.
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