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RFID-enabled Vehicles: Pinch My Ride

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the dude-where's-my-car dept.

429

Billosaur writes "Wired has an excellent article on the problems with the theft of RFID-enabled vehicles and how insurance companies are so over-confident in the technology, they are denying claims when such vehicles are stolen. Example: "Emad Wassef walked out of a Target store in Orange County, California, to find a big space where his 2003 Lincoln Navigator had been. The 38-year-old truck driver and former reserve Los Angeles police officer did what anyone would do: He reported the theft to the cops and called his insurance company. Two weeks later, the black SUV turned up near the Mexico border, minus its stereo, airbags, DVD player, and door panels. Wassef assumed he had a straightforward claim for around $25,000. His insurer, Chicago-based Unitrin Direct, disagreed." Their forensic examiner concluded that since all the keys were accounted for, there was no way the engine could have been started, despite the evidence that the ignition lock had been forced and the steering wheel locking lug had been damaged."

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429 comments

In other news (5, Insightful)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818012)

A local man who was the victim of a Home Invasion was shocked to learn that his insurance claim was denied because "As all of his home keys were still in his property, no one could have entered the house". Shard of broken glass, the robber's blood, his conviction in court and a lucky passerby's videotapes were also dismissed as "clever fakes". InsuranceCo stock jumped another 3 points today...

Apparent InsCo greed aside... (4, Insightful)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818123)

...which is what I really think is going on here, it's at least partly a classic case of turning off reasoning and common sense wherever technology is involved. The same amazingly intelligent people who can't operate the clock on the VCR are running the world and denying your claims.

Re:In other news (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818125)

It's also possible to tow such a car.

A car can be stolen without starting its engine.

Re:In other news (2, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818153)

ever cracked open a hard drive? the super magnets inside are real hany for use on RFID equipped keys. they disable them rather quickly. SHHH! don't tell anyone.

DNA (4, Interesting)

chevman (786211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818013)

This is similar to the assumption that if your DNA is present at a crimescene, you must by default be guilty.

Re:DNA (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818049)

You've watched Gattica one too many times. In the real world, people don't get convicted just because an eyelash fell out.

If your DNA is found inside of a rape-victim's vagina, however, then yes, you probably are guilty.

Re:DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818095)

Especially if she is a psycho stalker that has been rejected one too many times...

Re:DNA (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818144)

I don't think there was any need to bring your girlfriend into the conversation.

Oh right, you don't have one. My mistake!

Re:DNA (2, Funny)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818397)

No one wants to serve 10-15 for serving 10-15 in your mother.

Re:DNA (4, Insightful)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818183)

If your DNA is found inside of a rape-victim's vagina, however, then yes, you probably are guilty.

You're guilty of having sex with her around the time she was raped, yes. Is that enough to convict you of her rape? Not by a long shot.

Re:DNA (0, Troll)

LuminaireX (949185) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818430)

Uh, if the sex was consensual I doubt you'd even be in court in the first place. All she would have to do is say "yeah, I had sex with him, but this other dude raped me." Of course, that would imply that women are capable of rational thought.

Re:DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818121)

This is similar to the assumption that if your DNA is present at a crimescene, you must by default be guilty.

How is it similar?

I think your analogy makes as much sense as two purple monkeys trying to knit a sweater for the handicapped giraf who's living next door.

Re:DNA (1)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818278)

My bathtub full of brightly-colored machine tools would absolutely disagree with us.

Re:DNA (2, Funny)

Shippy (123643) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818132)

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Who really telling the truth (-1, Troll)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818023)

I mean if I had a gas guzzling SUV, I'd sure as hell break apart the steering column and leave it on the border then report it stolen.

Breaking the column of a computer chipped car isn't going to get you anywhere.

Personally I think this guy was committing fraud then reported to the media when he failed.

Re:Who really telling the truth (4, Insightful)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818073)

You don't think the issue here is RFID spoofing, perhaps?

Re:Who really telling the truth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818113)

No. He's just jealous that he can't afford a Lincoln Navigator.

jlarsen@fsu.edu

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818210)

Ok the point of posting my email address was what? Its up there in my information for the world to see. Trying to attract spam bots to sell me lincoln navigators?

Re:Who really telling the truth (0, Redundant)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818102)

It is quite easy to get around these systems. There are well known back doors put in by the manufacturer. A common one is pulling the emergency brake in a certian pattern.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818139)

A common one is pulling the emergency brake in a certian pattern.

Applying occams razor, I'd say that the Navigator was stolen by towtruck, rather than thieves jerking off the emergency brake in the secret pattern to get it to start.

Re:Who really telling the truth (5, Informative)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818104)

Obviously you have no clue as to what you are speaking about. The column would steal need to be opened in order to remove/disable the wheel lock detent. The computer portion of the anti-theft system is often over ridden by clever theive who are either privy to the manufacturers over ride methodology (I.E. a prius allows a certain pattern of engaging and disengaging the parking brake to over ride the security system and other systems will be disabled by simply removing a specific fuse from underhood) OR they simply aquired an ECU with the secuirty system already diusabled and then swapped the computers to allow starting w/o the "correct" rfid embedded keys.

Both of these methods are not only possible, but are common and becoming more common every day, especially on high dollar cars which are a big time target for theft, cadillac escalades and lincoln navigators are high on the list in my neck of the woods...

I question your methodology for assesing this man's involvment as well, you remarks smack of ad-hominem attack fueled by your distaste for his choice of driving a "gas guzzling SUV", however you seem to be suffering from the same shortsightedness that many of the savagely anti-SUV crowd does, you neglect to account for the possible neccesity of such a vehicle, perhaps this many has a large family and a boat which he frequently tows? Oh, but then you'd have to get off your high horse ;)

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818242)

I question your methodology for assesing this man's involvment as well, you remarks smack of ad-hominem attack fueled by your distaste for his choice of driving a "gas guzzling SUV", however you seem to be suffering from the same shortsightedness that many of the savagely anti-SUV crowd does
Damn you are touchy.

To us normal people, the implication of "gas-guzzling" was pretty clear -- that operation of the vehicle has become very expensive recently, you know, because gasoline prices have gone through the roof.

Re:Who really telling the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818291)

If you're looking for seating capacity, an SUV isn't your best choice. It makes a dandy status symbol though.

Re:Who really telling the truth (2, Insightful)

BeBoxer (14448) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818260)

you neglect to account for the possible neccesity of such a vehicle, perhaps this many has a large family and a boat which he frequently tows?

Large families and boats are both lifestyle choices as well. Choices which it's perfectly valid to criticize.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818361)

Perhaps, but not ones on from which it is reasonable to assume someone is committing insurance fraud.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818406)

Large families and boats are both lifestyle choices as well. Choices which it's perfectly valid to criticize.

Not to mention that an SUV is not the best vehicle choice for a large family. A van is.

Re:Who really telling the truth (2, Funny)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818262)

That's no excuse. If he has a boat and so many kids, then he should just make the kids push the boat around while he drives next to them in his two-seater hybrid yelling at them to put their backs into it.

Re:Who really telling the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818417)

Until they started to climb a hill, in which then his kids would pass him.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818263)

While I do agree that the Shrill Anti-SUV crowd tends to tar hunters and other people who need a 4wd vehicle with good ground clearance for their offroad work unfairly, the guy bought a Lincoln Navigator. No actual outdoorsman would buy one of those, that guy had it entirely for the bling factor. Even if he did have a large family, your average Station Wagon is a far better choice for getting them around from an environmental impact standpoint and works just as well. Even a minivan would be less obnoxious, especially if he has 4 or 5 kids.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818284)

a prius allows a certain pattern of engaging and disengaging the parking brake to over ride the security system

Shave and a haircut?

Re:Who really telling the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818307)

Actually, there have been several cases of people making 'arrangements'to have their big SUV's stolen and torched. They can't make the payments & buy gas, nor can they sell it because they owe more on the SUV than it's worth. (They would have to pay somebody to take the vehicle.)

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

Roody Blashes (975889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818394)

...you neglect to account for the possible neccesity of such a vehicle, perhaps this many has a large family and a boat which he frequently tows.

Y'know, people have been making that argument to me for the last six years now. Undoubtedly, I've seen people towing boats, trailers, etc from time to time behind an SUV, but by far the most common use I see for SUVs is... drum roll please:

Carrying one person to and from work on the expressway at unncessarily high speeds.

See, the SUV crowd keeps SAYING things like this, but I never really see any evidence that any of it is true. If there's so much need for it, I'd really love to know why I'm never seeing it. I mean, over certain periods of time I'm willing to accept that I'm just missing these people with their massive "needs", but Occam's Razor is starting to tell me that the reason I see these "needs" so infrequently is because they're a crock that people like you invented to justify buying overpriced, under-functional trucks from shifty salesman that you weren't bright enough to handle.

Almost nobody in the U.S., especially in metro areas, can rationally justify an SUV purchase. They get bought because they got popular and people just couldn't resist not having the latest trendy gadget, no matter how expensive and pointless and dangerous it was.

Go play in traffic. Nobody with even half a brain is stupid enough anymore to believe that the majority of people with SUVs bought them for any other reason than they were "the cool thing to have".

inside dealer job (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818435)

how could the keys "match" if the person reported it stolen with at least one in his hand? If the insurance company is citing Ford serial number, or engine computer records, they are dangerously incompetent. If the keys in Ford records matched the set driving the car, then somebody inside the dealer illegally transfered those keys and is helping organized theft of vehicles. That the insurance agent did't immediately present that info to the police is negligent.

Re:Who really telling the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818131)

Breaking the column of a computer chipped car isn't going to get you anywhere.

It gets you steering dipshit, and you circumvent the ignition lockout in other less detectable ways. Did you even glance at the article, or did all those words in one place overwhelm your ability to sound them out? Man you're a fucking idiot. Use a tiny bit of critical thinking.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

Incongruity (70416) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818330)

Did you even RTFA? Yeah, I didn't think so. If you had, you would have seen just how common and how easy it is for such RFID based systems to be worked around or tricked and, yes, unless you had the right mechanical key, you'd still need to crack the steering column to bypass the mechanical locking system.

I had my suspicions about all of that, but the article pretty much spelled it out. So, by your claim, I can gather that either you completely disagree with the information presented there or you didn't read it. If you did read it, what's your counter evidence? Seeing as you present nothing to backup your claims, I'm left to believe you have no clue what you're talking about.

Re:Who really telling the truth (1)

Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818335)

The guy spent $50 or $60 grand on a vehicle, and you think the extra few bucks in gas are going to break him, and make him commit fraud?

Okayyyyy...

Wired had a bit about this last month (4, Insightful)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818030)

Seems that there are at least a handful of commonly known/used methods for circumventing rfid embedded key/security systems in cars. Several of these are documented by the manufacturers of the cars. It is a ridiculous notion that if say all the keys to the car had been lost that it would then be impossible to somehow replace the keys or reprogram the system for another set. Any insurance company making such claims is obviously letting the smell of money overwhelm their senses and has overlooked what is quite simply the fact of the matter...

The man in the headline should clearly be bending his insurer over a barrel and giving them a good legal fucking...

Re:Wired had a bit about this last month (3, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818047)

And none of these methods involve breaking the steering column as well as take some serious planning as well as obtaining manufacuring codes.

Re:Wired had a bit about this last month (1)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818117)

The steering lock is a mechanical device, which requires either a key or something to break it with before you can turn the wheel. Since all keys were accounted for, the only way to steal the car is to break the steering lock (and, of course, fool the RFID reader). No conspiracy here.

Re:Wired had a bit about this last month (3, Insightful)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818159)

Actually all of these methods require the steering column to be opened in order to disable the steering lock detent mechanism. And they do require preplanning, but if you are targetting a specific make/model fo car then the planning isn't too difficult. It is foolish to assume that theives are just going about this willy nilly and stealing in the heat of the moment when they are overcome with desire. Often times thefts are carried out by highly organized gangs with the specific intent of picking specific targets with high resale of stolen parts and then carrying out well planned thefts where-in their chances of getting caught are signifigantly lowered and their probability of getting a big pay day are likewise raised.

Tis a foolish man who assumes that dishonesty goes hand in hand with stupidity (and vice versa for that matter) high technology secuirty systems just encourage theives to be much more sophisticated...

Re:Wired had a bit about this last month (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818450)

It's also the smart criminals you don't hear about too much b/c they don't get caught nearly as frequently as the dumb ones.

Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (5, Insightful)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818038)

...to deny claims. That's what they do. Insurance companies aren't in business to pay for people's losses, they're in business not to pay for people's losses, because the less they pay out, the greater profit they make. The portrayal in The Incredibles was just about dead-on. So getting them to fork over is often like trying to squeeze blood from a stone even at the best of times.

Obligatory Simpsons quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818058)

"I didn't get rich by writing a lot of cheques."

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818081)

While you have a valid point I found it hilarious that The Incredibles was being used as a reference in a post.

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818170)

Really, I found it great, while watching that movie, how true to life the potshots they took at Bob's insurance company were. My parents have had to go to great lengths to get insurance companies to fork over for car accidents; a friend of mine was nearly refused insurance funding for an expensive operation that his doctor insisted was necessary to his continued long-term survival. And I can't remember any other movie where insurance companies were presented as the sorts of heartless bastards they often are. :)

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818261)

And I clicked the "post anonymously" instead of "no karma bonus" checkmark. grumble.

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (1, Insightful)

Last_Save (991561) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818089)

I would have to agree, my own car insurance company is refusing to pay for medical bill's (MVA + No fault Polices) becuase their "doctors" went over my medical reconds and determined that a flare up with my back is a whole new injury and not at all related to my MVA (wich it is). It is ridiculuos how often insurance companies will go to avoid paying out.

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818181)

Ahh, but The Incredibles was far more accurate than you think. For example, at UHC, the people that reject all the claims piss off the customer service people so much, that if you are nice on the phone you they will do whatever they can to get your claim approved (or at least cause trouble for the people in charge of rejecting claims.) I one time had a years worth of claims resubmitted for processing by a nice customer service person. On the second pass, all the rejected claims were approved.

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818334)

I would mod your post up, but since it is already at +5, I'll confirm it instead:

There have been cases among my acquaintances and relatives where the insurance companies refused to pay with the most threadbare excuses. My conclusion is to have only the most essential insurance and to be ready to sue the insurance company if necessary.

Re:Insurance companies will seek any excuse... (4, Insightful)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818440)

Insurance companies aren't in business to pay for people's losses, they're in business not to pay for people's losses, because the less they pay out, the greater profit they make.

Insurance companies are corporate gamblers. They are betting you are a good driver and that your car won't get stolen or damaged. Your insurance premium is reflective of how good of a bet this is.

That said, when they lose the bet, they will try to weasel out of paying it.

sue the insurance company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818045)

Their forensic examiner concluded that since all the keys were accounted for, there was no way the engine could have been started, despite the evidence that the ignition lock had been forced and the steering wheel locking lug had been damaged."

So? You can steal a car without starting the engine: use a tow truck.

There's no way to prevent a thief from towing a car while allowing police to tow a car.

Re:sue the insurance company (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818111)

Exactly. It could easily have been the work of a repossessor looking for a little extra profit. It takes all of about 2 seconds for a repo-man's towing device to grab a vehicle.

Denied (5, Interesting)

fuzz6y (240555) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818053)

Lloyd's of London denied the Cunard line's claim for the loss of ocean liner Titanic, because "God himself could not sink this ship."

Re:Denied (3, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818347)

She is made of iron, sir. I assure you, she can. And she will. It is a mathematical certainty.

Without a doubt, my favorite line from the movie. Though, to be honest, it's not high on my "what to watch" when I've got three hours to kill. A close second would have been a hearty "Game over, man!" from Bill Paxton, but it just never appeared.

Bombs... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818062)

"Emad Wassef", eh? Sounds Arab. Wonder if they checked the truck for BOMBS?

I call bullshit (5, Funny)

sjonke (457707) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818067)

They didn't bother to steal the plus-sized, chrome spinny wheels?

Technology fails? (-1, Offtopic)

ExPacis (973499) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818071)

Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Insurance fraud.... (5, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818078)

If the car can't (according to the insurance company) be stolen, then by accepting premiums for insurance which covers loss due to theft (without any intention of ever paying said claims), they are comitting fraud. Sounds like some insurance company executives need to go to jail.

Re:Insurance fraud.... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818126)

Well what they sell you insurance called Comprehensive. Which covers damage not involving and accident, means that if a tree falls on it, or it burns to the ground, OR it gets stolen they pay for it. Obviously they might be inclinded to give better rates for these cars, but they arn't specifically selling theif insurance.

Re:Insurance fraud.... (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818341)

but they arn't specifically selling theif insurance.

Hm, what the hell is this line right here on my insurance policy that says "Theft" then?

Re:Insurance fraud.... (4, Insightful)

tdvaughan (582870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818166)

You can still steal the car by towing it away which is insurable against. If, however, they find evidence that the car was driven then they assume that the owner was complicit in the car's theft as they believe that the car is only drivable with the keys in the ignition.

Re:Insurance fraud.... (1)

drnlm (533500) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818192)

They are not claiming it can't be stolen. They claiming it can't be stolen by starting the engine without a copy of the key. There are numerous other ways a car can be stolen. While this is provably incorrect, their position is at least logically consistent.

Re:Insurance fraud.... (1)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818294)

What if a thief towed the truck off? Certainly the car can still be stolen without actually driving it away.

Moral of the story is... (5, Funny)

Cpoff (991199) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818082)

Throw away one of your keys before you call the insurance company? :)

Re:Moral of the story is... (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818171)

...and claim that you've been robbed. I.e. your keys stolen as well.

Yes, it's fraud. But when you commit fraud to get a legitimate claim granted, it's allright in my books.

Re:Moral of the story is... (1)

gronofer (838299) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818184)

No doubt somewhere in the contract is a clause that such driver stupidity as losing a key, or leaving it sitting in the ignition, also invalidates the contract.

The moral of the story for me is that I don't really need to buy a car. For people who really need a car, the moral is don't waste money on theft insurance, since you probably won't be able to claim in any case.

logfile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818085)

I'm assuming the car has a logfile which says when it was started, etc. Stupid just read the logs, and call somebody.

Big deal (1)

gigne (990887) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818119)

Insurance companies will, and always have screwed people.
There is a pure evil greed within said companies that drives them to become judge and jury. Unfortunately the verdict is favourable to the company.
There has always been a drive within the companies to find any way to stop that payout. I had my car stolen 3 times, and the third time they wouldn't put the locks back in as "the previous repair was not up to (company name)'s standard, and therefore not up to insurable level.". The funny part is they repaired it each time.
As the contracts by these companies are as long as my arm, and cover anything including "we don't want to pay out" clause, there is no real legal recourse against them.
More and more companies will use the supposed "infallible product, and therefore not possible" argument, which not only is a very very bad thing (tm), but also something we are going to have to get used to.
These people presume guilty before innocent

bottom line, you are screwed.

Big space (1, Flamebait)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818137)

Emad Wassef walked out of a Target store in Orange County, California, to find a big space where his 2003 Lincoln Navigator had been.

Big space = 3 normal parking spots

I hope they scrap his SUV and use it to build 3 Civic-sized cars.

Re:Big space (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818312)

What do you think he was going to buy with the $25,000 insurance claim... for stereo, airbags and door panels? Of course the insurance company denied his claim, even a complete navigator isn't worth $25k once it leaves the showroom.

Excuse My ignorace. (1, Funny)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818179)

Excuse my ignorance but could somebody explain to me what is so magical about these refid vehicles as to cause one to expect the impossibility of starting them after they are broken into?

Exactly what parts of the car are disabled when refid token is not present?
More over how do those parts KNOW it isn't present?

I mean unless the refid reader is somehow coupled to the spark control computer so that it is impossible to interpose between the refid receiver and the spark control computer I don't see what would stop someone from simply jumpering around the detector.

Even if the spark control computer was in fact coupled tightly to the refid receiver in one apoxy sealed unit so you couldn't interfere, last time I checked replacing the spark control computer could be done in under 15 min if you were good at it. I mean it's not that much different then replacing a hard drive. Even a less compatible control computer would probably allow the vehicle to run (poorly) for a while if I'm not mistaken.

Re:Excuse My ignorace. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818258)

The point is never to make a car theftproof. The point is to make it harder to steal so that the thief will move on to a less secure care. No car thief want to take very long to get the car started, so "under 15 minutes" does not fly unl;ess the car is in a very isolated location.

But as with most issues, we focus on the wrong part. The problem isn't better technology, it's better punishment for the crime. There's still a distinction between stealing a car for a "joy ride" or taking it to a chop shop. There's guys with multiple car thefts on their records walking around free.

Re:Excuse My ignorace. (2, Informative)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818282)

First part you asked how the car knows the token isn't present. Well, there is a transmitter/receiver in the dash/steering column that sends a signal to the key/fob when the key is inserted. Then, because the circuitry of the RFID tag is excited, it transmits back a code to the receiver in the car. The receiver reads this code and the computer in the car verifies that it is the proper code for that car. If it is, it allows the car to start. If the code is incorrect, it prevents the car from starting.

When the RFID token is not present, the computer prevents the car from starting. Without the ECU, your engine can't run. It is vital to the operation of your car. If the software in the ECU actively prevents operation of the car, there isn't anything you can do about it except to load new software onto the ECU that you cooked up (good luck).

RFID madness? (3, Informative)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818191)

The European Union currently conduct a consultation on rfid [rfidconsultation.eu] . I really would like to know what the role of governments should be. Governments are lobbied like hell on rfid. Some civil rights groups call them spychips. And lobbyists approach governments. And the question is why? Shouldn't markets decide?

Anyway, I suggest you to fill out the questionaire [europa.eu] .

Other intresting consultation links can be found here and [ffii.org] here [europa.eu] . It is important to get more people involved in these political procedures and legislature who actually know what they are talking about. And I would like to spam politicians with the request for 'better interoperability'. Here the regulator has to take measures. I found it very nice that the EU already considered it. "Interoperability, standardization, governance, and Intellectual Property Rights (1 June)"

So maybe it makes sense to report cases like these to the authorities to avoid madness. I guess they do not read Slashdot.

The insurance company doesn't have the final word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818193)

A judge has the final word on whether or not the company has to pay a claim. If the judge decides that the insurance company is being really unreasonable, extra damages can be awarded. The trouble is that the initial outlay for the lawyer is really expensive. Maybe the AAA or Consumer's Union can be persuaded to take an interest. If there are enough of these cases, maybe a class action is in order.

The guy who had his vehicle stolen already has one thing going for him; the insurance company is now getting lots of unfavorable publicity. By denying his claim, they are basically accusing him of criminal complicity. They should have to put up or shut up. Accusing him of being a thief or of abetting a thief without being able to prove it is libel. The ex-prime minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney sued just because one police force asked another police force for information about his financial transactions. He won millions. This guy's case seems similar and since the private slander has been published, it is now libel.

Here's an idea (1, Troll)

PingXao (153057) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818233)

If we had RFID aware gas pumps it would be possible to have a sliding scale of federal gasoline tax. Tax those Lincoln Navigators et al at $1.50 a gallon and let the efficient sippers off with $0.25 per. I guess that would make too much sense.

Re:Here's an idea (2, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818306)

No. In fact, it doesn't make sense.
Can you explain to me why we need a sliding scale? The gas-guzzler drivers are already buying more fuel and thus paying more tax. Do you like having the government tell you what and how to drive? Do you want to penalize contractors, limousine companies, and boat owners for buying a vehicle that meets their needs?

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818331)

But... but... but then I'd be taxed at an even higher amount per mile than I'm already paying to commute in my Canyonero. Us gas-guzzlers are already paying a disproportionate amount of tax, a flat rate per gallon is by its very nature progressive. /sarcasm

I like the idea, but I think it'd be fairly simple to spoof the tag.

Re:Here's an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818368)

Actually it should be the reverse - a fuel efficient car should pay more gasoline tax than a less fuel efficient car. A fuel efficient car uses less gas per mile therefore consumes more road per tax dollar collected (not sure if "consume" would be the correct term, but I'm sticking with it). In order to make the tax system more fair, a more fuel efficient vehicle should have to pay a higher tax rate per gallon of gas.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818395)

Except that certain gas guzzlers would game the system. Just as some SUV's got themselves classified as "low pollution versions of trucks" instead of "high pollution versions of cars" and got tax INCENTIVES for themselves.

'oh-my-god-stats-can-kill' dept. SA's theft stats (5, Interesting)

tradingfire (912178) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818237)

Listed below, from best to worst, are the tested cars listed by name, points and, where applicable, time taken to gain entry.
"What Car?" Security Supertest League Table

The 26 Cars they Couldn't get into:

1-3: Lexus IS300, Lexus LS430 and Lexus SC430 (100).
4-7: BMW 318i SE, Nissan Maxima QX 3.0 SE+, Skoda Superb 2.5 TDi Comfort, Toyota Camry CDX V6 (95)
8-15: Audi A4 1.9 TDi SE, BMW 735i, BMW X5 3.0d, Citroën C3 1.4 HDi Exclusive, Jaguar S-type, Mazda Tribute, Nissan Primera 2.0, VW Passat V6 4motion (90).
16-23: Audi A2 1.4 TDi SE, Audi A6 Avant 4.2 quattro, Audi TT 180 Coupé, Ford Fiesta 1.4 Ghia, Seat Ibiza 1.4 Sport, Toyota Previa D-4D GLS, VW Golf GT TDi PD, Volvo S80 2.4T S. (85).
24-26: Nissan Almera 2.2 Di Sport, Nissan Almera Tino 2.0 SE+, Nissan X-Trail 2.0 SE+ (80).

The Cars they Could
27: BMW 520i (75) 1min 12sec
28: Saab 9-5 Aero 2.3 HOT (75) 1min 5sec
29: Renault Vel Satis (75) 58sec
30: Jaguar X-type 2.5 (70) 1min 30sec
31: Renault Clio 1.6 16v Initiale (70) 1min 15sec
32: BMW 325i Compact (70) 1min 4sec
33: Fiat Stilo 1.2 16v Active 5dr (70) 1min
34: Mazda Premacy (70) 32sec
35: Honda Jazz 1.4 SE Sport (70) 29sec
36: Renault Avantime (70) 25sec
37: Mazda MX-5 (70) 20sec
38: VW Polo TDi PD Sport (65) 1min 50sec
39: Volvo V70 T5 (65) 1min 36sec
40: Honda Civic Type-R (65) 1min 34sec
41: Mercedes C220 CDi Sports Coupé (65) 1min 20sec
42: Ford Mondeo TDCi (65) 1min 11sec
43: Volvo S60 T5 SE (65) 1min 7sec
44: Toyota Yaris T Sport (65) 57sec
45: MG ZT 190 (65) 50sec
46: Ford Focus ST170 (65) 45sec
47: Honda CR-V SE Sport (65) 43sec
48: Range Rover 4.4 V8 HSE (65) 38sec
49: Peugeot 307 SW 2.0 HDi SE (65) 33sec
50: MG TF 135 (65) 30sec
51: Mercedes SL500 (65) 29sec
52: Peugeot 206 HDi D Turbo (65) 20sec
53: Mini One (60) 50sec
54: Ford Maverick V6 XLT 3.0 (60) 32sec
55: Suzuki Liana 1.6 GLX (60) 28sec
56: Vauxhall VX220 (60) 18sec
57: Jeep Cherokee 3.7 Ltd (60) 9sec
58: Toyota Corolla T Sport (60) 8sec
59: Suzuki Wagon R+ 1.3 GL (50) 48sec
60: Daihatsu YRV F-speed (50) 12sec

Re: 'oh-my-god-stats-can-kill' dept. SA's theft st (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818355)

What year was that published? And what model years are those cars? Without knowing the model year of the car tested, we don't know if it is at the end of a 5 or 7 year run, and is saddled with an old security design, or is a brand new design.

Re: 'oh-my-god-stats-can-kill' dept. SA's theft st (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818449)

Time to gain entry???

When my car was stolen they broke the window. Time to gain entry: 2 seconds.

Next generation anti-theft car system (0, Redundant)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818241)

I am personnally very confident in that system. To the point that I don't think that we should automatically dismiss some foul-play by the victim right off the bat.

I think that the insurance company should pay the victim and investigate what went wrong with the system. It may be that it doesn't work as well as expected. If this is true, it must be made known. And if the investigation turns up evidence of foul-play, the insurance company can always call the cops.

BTW, the real problem with this excellent anti-theft system is that it may lead to more car-jacking.

21st century magic (2, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818247)

Why is it that most people automatically assume technological solutions to problems are infallible, and don't create any further problems? This certainly isn't limited to insurance adjusters and stolen cars, just another convenient reminder that when faced with something they don't understand, the average person seems to just shut down their brain and move on.

Re:21st century magic (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818382)

"Why is it that most people automatically assume technological solutions to problems are infallible, and don't create any further problems?"

You know how little the average person understands about technology? Well, 49% of people understand even less than that...

Plus the manufacturers regularly seem to claim that every new technology is precisely such an infallible solution, even though it always turns out not to be.

Meh - not a big deal. (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818255)

Person files claim, looking for $20000. Insurer suggests a settlement of $0. There's a disagreement about an appropriate settlement.

When there's a disagreement on settlement, you go to court. It happens all the time. One dumb adjuster/investigator can make your time as a claimant difficulty - but by moving to court you can ensure a due process.

Reminds me of the Simpsons (2, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818296)

Homer wants to get rid of a trampoline but can't until Bart puts a bike lock on it, then Snake shows up right away to steal it.

nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15818329)

FTA: ...performed the specific series of pumps, interspersed with rotations...I had just jacked my own car.

heh.

Insurers have I got news for you.. (4, Informative)

OlivierB (709839) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818358)

A friend of mine works in a very large dealership of Germand made cars.
New cars all come with a little plastic keyring with a tab attached to it. You scratch the surface of this tab to reveal a "Master Key".
This key is akin to the RFID code needed to start the car, the dealer is supposed to give it up to the customer so that he can order a new set of keys, reprogram the other ones etc..
This dealer has some people scratch all of these tags before they are given to the client, because as we well know, joe client will lose this in a blink.
Without this key you need to contact the factory, wait two weeks, pay a fee and than program some new keys.
On this particular brand, you can program/pair up to 5 keys per car if I remember correctly; only 5 keys can have the same code, I you lose one, you can only have four more etc.. After you've lost these you will need to reprogram all keys once again.

My point is that at any level in this process you could have an insider job from the dealer, the manufacturer, or even some thief which goes through the dealer's bin picking these tabs if they aren't securely destroyed.

Forensic evidence for this kind of theft is nearly impossible to tell, the cars ECU don't usually keep a whole lot of historical data.

Nevermind that, if you get ahold of a dealer's servicing computer and a new ECU worth only a few thousand dollars you can actually reprogram the keys without need for the master key (plus you get to keep the ecu and put the old one back in when you abandon the car).
The difficulty with this method however is not damaging the stering column or the physical lock.

RFIDs can be cloned.. (2, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818377)

They can even be brute forced, however almost every car which has a system like this embedded in the car, has an imobiliser integrated into the engine. While it used to be a case of just disconnecting the immobiliser, they're now very tricky to disable. If you force the ignition without an RFID, the imobiliser would activate before the car got down the road. If the thieves were able to clone the RFID key system they wouldn't need to force the ignition in that way. If they forced the ignition without the code, the imobiliser would have gone off. Sounds like either a defective imobiliser or insurance fraud to me.

Remote Start (4, Interesting)

Slayback (12197) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818383)

One not-so-obvious answer may be that the owner had fitted the vehicle with a remote-start system or a 3rd party alarm. In most cases when this is done with RFID enabled vehicles, they have to override the RFID system. The hack to get around this high-tech security? Stick a key under the dash within range of the receiver. This would allow most remote start systems to then work.

If the owner had done this and perhaps the perps had witnessed the victim using the remote-start vehicle, then they had a good target.

Yes, I read the article and read about the back doors, but there's another situation where owners are willfully overriding security systems in order to get the functionality that they want and the manufacturer doesn't give them. Sound familiar?

catch-22 (2, Insightful)

m874t232 (973431) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818390)

Their forensic examiner concluded that since all the keys were accounted for, there was no way the engine could have been started,

And if not all the keys had been accounted for, the insurance company would have refused to pay because the guy was careless with his keys.

I hope the victim will be able to recover both his loss and penalties from the insurance company.

You're supposed to help *our* people (2, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818402)

quoth imdb:

Bob: Did I do something illegal?
Gilbert Huph: [begrudgingly] No.
Bob: Are you saying we shouldn't help our customers?
Gilbert Huph: [pacing back and forth] The law requires that I answer, No.
Bob: I thought we were supposed to help people.
Gilbert Huph: You're supposed to help *our* people! Starting with our stockholders! Who's helping them out, Huh?

No sense (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818407)

This makes no sense. The car could easily have been towed away even if it couldn't be driven. Heck, folks expect tow-trucks to be in a parking lot hooking up cars and if the owner comes out and objects the "operator" can "let him off with a warning" and drive away with no one ever realizing that a car was almost stolen.

If anyone sees anything, its a non-descript tow truck with a generic company name and a guy wearing a baseball cap, hooded sweater and sunglasses so you can't tell anything about him except skin color, height and build.

Newsflash (1)

955301 (209856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818420)

In the news:

Half baked insurance companies deny auto claims by default - news at 11p

Ummm.. (3, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#15818428)

US carmakers and auto-mobile insurers are unshakably certain that vehicles protected by "transponder immobil-izers" can't be driven without the proper keys - or, at least, that circumventing those transponder systems takes more sweat and money than most auto thieves are willing to expend.

I think these companies are seriously fooling themselves. It's not like every crook has to go through the trouble of cracing the system - only one does - they can then sell their crack to everyone else.

Who wants to bet that right now, as we speak, car thieves know more about these systems than the insurance company forensic investigators do?

I don't even know anything about them and I know how this could be done. These systems work like any other public key encryption, they rely on the fact that there is a **private key** in the car that no one knows about. One leak in the system, either in the plant, or in the chip in the car, or in a disgruntled employee at a dealership, and the system falls apart. Boom, it is now trivial to make fake RFID "keys" that respond with the right handshake to private keys sent from the car.

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