Car thieves in the United States often choose Hyundai and Kia models lately because they are easy prey. We are talking about models that do not use the engine start button.
It takes them less than a minute to start such a car and drive away. For this, a standard USB cable is used. A group of Kia Boys thieves regularly not only steal cars, but also upload videos of the process to the Web. They target cars with a physical key slot and no immobilizer.
After entering the cabin, the attacker removes the steering column cover and exposes the key slot. Then, using the USB cable, you can turn the ignition switch, start the car and unlock the steering. This allows you to start a Hyundai or Kia car again and again and drive it from place to place.
These models are not equipped with a factory-installed anti-theft device called an immobilizer. These immobilizers use a chip (transponder) to authenticate the key in the car’s electronic control unit. This means that even if the thief has copied the physical cutouts on the key, the car cannot be started until the transponder is paired with the car. Because the vulnerable Hyundai and Kia cars supposedly don’t have an immobilizer, thieves can easily start them.
Representatives from Hyundai and Kia said 2022 models are immune to this method. But since it can be difficult to tell a 2022 model from a 2021 model, cars still get hacked, even if they can’t steal them in the end.