Volkswagen Group cars built between 1995 and 2016 are susceptible to being unlocked by hackers, a recent study has found.
The group of researchers, at the University of Birmingham and the University of Bochum, first discovered the hack in November 2015, and held talks with the manufacturing giant, “and an affected sub-contractor” early this year. Affected models include many of those made by Seat, Skoda and Audi, in addition to VW-branded cars.
The published paper put the number of vulnerable cars at around 100 million; nearly 10 times the number of affected vehicles in the ongoing emissions scandal. The report did not give away any details of how to hack the keys, however, which means that the findings cannot be used to aid criminals attempting to steal cars.
Volkswagen released a statement on the researchers’ findings, which said: “The bar for theft prevention is constantly being raised, but nonetheless there is ultimately no 100% security.”
“Volkswagen’s electronic and mechanical security measures are always state-of-the-art technology, and Volkswagen also offers innovative technologies in this field that are constantly further developed.”
VW was also keen to point out that current cars from the manufacturer’s MQB platform, including the Golf, Tiguan, Touran and Passat have a higher level of security than the affected models, and aren’t included in the findings.
The researchers also issued some advice to Volkswagen customers, saying that it’s better, in light of the findings, to use the door locks of the cars to prevent a thief ‘eavesdropping’ on the lock signal and unlocking the car later.
“Note that in addition, for many cars, the alarm will trigger after a while if the car doors or the trunk are mechanically opened, unless the immobiliser is disarmed with the original key.”