Sunday 30 August 2020

Hard-Off Anti-Hacking Solution to Fight Wave of UK Car Theft Ahead of Brexit

UK motorists should prepare themselves for a wave of preventable vehicle theft, as criminals emerge from lockdown and race to ship stolen export vehicles ahead of the December Brexit deadline, according to innovative technology firm Hard-Off Security.

With signs that the lull in car-related crime seen in the last four months is ending, experts Hard-Off Security is calling on both owners and the insurance industry to plan ahead and tackle the issue of ‘relay-hacking’, the single biggest issue effecting the theft of, or from, vehicles. 

With a possible clampdown on UK ports at the end of the year, as part of the uncertainty over Brexit, it’s concerned that organised crime will attempt to ship as many stolen vehicles and parts as possible in the coming months – leading to a bonanza of illicit activity.

Responsible for an estimated three quarters1 of all car theft, relay-hacking exposes a security weakness in many of today’s vehicles, and costs the insurance industry an estimated £380 million a year in claims. 

Last year a total of 114,0001 vehicles were stolen in the UK, and to date over 50% have yet to be recovered. Hard-Off’s propriety solution is the installation of an upgrade to a car’s key fob that doesn’t alter the car itself or negatively impact any aspect of the existing security system.

Managing Director of Hard-Off Security, Mark Churchward, said: 
“This is a big problem that will hit motorists the hardest. At a time when many may have been furloughed or concerned about their jobs, a steep rise in the number of stolen vehicles will only lead to a rise in premiums as the insurance industry passes the cost on to customer through big rises in premiums.’

Heading off the hack attack that can take as little as 10 seconds

Taking as little as 10 seconds, this silent hijacking of the car’s security can be carried out even when the car and the key are not in close proximity, and victims often don’t realise until their vehicle is long gone. Once the fob is cloned, the vehicles’ security is bypassed allowing it to be unlocked, started and driven away, no matter where it is parked.

Invented after his daughter’s car was stolen from her driveway in the middle of the night, Mark’s Norfolk based company has perfected its Key Fob Isolation system by blocking the passive authentication system that criminals exploit to snatch cars without the keys. 

With many of Britain’s most popular cars fitted with keyless systems as a convenience feature, criminals are able to fool the car into responding by using send-receive electronics that pretend to be the fob.

Offering enhanced security for both every day and expensive vehicles, the Hard-Off Security upgrade can be easily retro‐fitted by owners or approved Hard-Off technicians, available for most existing keyless‐entry/keyless start key fobs and requires no change to the original on‐board car security systems. It retains all the functionality of the manufacturer’s original specification.

“Although many relay hacks are carried out at night, while the owner is home asleep, it’s possible to clone a fob in a car park or shopping centre, and with thieves targeting prestige marques that are quickly shipped abroad, our solution is 100% effective at stopping a car’s security system being hijacked. This means it offers real peace of mind and protection for motorists across the UK,” concludes Mark Churchward.

The Hard-Off Security Hard-Off Key Fob Isolation Switch is available now, with prices starting at £45 to £75 per key fob, from

Hard-Off Security’s Key Fob Isolation has three levels of functionality.

1 – Manual (M). The owner is able to switch the fob ON or OFF using an external magnetic switch on the fob casing which activates or deactivates an internal flexible printed circuit board (fPCB) controlling the fob’s internal power circuits to its ‘mother’ PCB.

This gives complete and direct control over the activation of the car owners key fob without losing any of the keyless functionality when required. Once the car is locked, the owner can turn the fob off until needed again, making it impossible to be cloned or ‘hacked’. No changes are made to the key fob, so full original manufacturer’s functionality is maintained when ON.

2 – Semi Automatic (A) Here the fob is automatically turned off when not in use.

The Hard‐Off fPCB turns the fob OFF when motionless for 20 seconds and ON again as soon as movement is detected, provided the external switch is set to ON. This is combined with the external switch as described above.

3 ‐ All Automatic (AA) This fPCB operates completely automatically turning itself ON when needed and OFF when not. The user is unlikely to be aware that this ‘relay attack shielding’ is protecting his or her car as it works intuitively.


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