The risk of someone intercepting your key fob between your hand or home and the car was a risk nobody talked about when keyless entry came into the mainstream. Yet it is common in some areas, especially Europe. Ford say they have overcome that risk with a new smart key fob.
The new smart key fob will be introduced first in the UK in the new Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta and will be rolled out to other models and regions after. The new system uses a sleep mode that sends the fob to sleep if it remains motionless for 40 seconds and wakes it up once it detects movement and is within 6.5m of the car.
It is hoped that this technology will help prevent the rise in so-called ‘relay thefts’ of cars with keyless entry. Countries around the world have seen a rise in this type of theft alongside burglaries for car keys. Thanks to huge improvements in car security it is now almost impossible to steal a car without the key. Criminals are now using other methods to catch us out.
One of which is the relay theft.
The relay theft or relay attack uses a very simple technique. It uses easily purchasable relay devices configured to collect data from a key fob. One thief stands by your car with a relay box and another stands close to you or to your home. The boxes pick up the signal from the key fob and boost it enough to reach the car. Thus unlocking it and allowing it to start.
There is a simple way to prevent relay attacks though. Put your keys into a metal box or container when storing them. The signal from the fob cannot pass through metal so using a metal box or even a faraday pouch bought online for $5 could save your car.
From this year, new Ford Focus and Fiesta bought in the UK will have the new smart key fobs. Owners of existing keyless Focus and Fiesta may be able to upgrade their keys with Ford. The automaker says the technology will come to North American in the not too distant future if they prove useful in other regions.
For now, if you have a car with keyless entry, storing your keys inside a metal container or faraday pouch is a much cheaper and simpler solution to this type of theft. At least until we get these new keys.
New Focus and Fiesta are available at Northway Ford Lincoln, 388 King George Road Brantford ON N3S 3N2, although we don’t have those keys yet.