With criminals finding ever more creative ways to steal modern cars, Toyota SA has hit back with new measures to protect its Toyota and Lexus vehicles from hi-tech thieves.
SA’s best-selling car brand was reacting to criminals using sophisticated technology to target its high-end and luxury vehicles featuring keyless or smart entry systems and emergency start capabilities.
Having studied the thieves’ methods, Toyota has introduced a number of enhancements — which it doesn’t describe in detail for obvious reasons — and invites owners of select Toyota and Lexus models (list below) to take their vehicle to any Toyota dealership where the security tweaks will be carried out for free.
New vehicles as well as those arriving at dealers for servicing will automatically receive these enhancements, says Leon Theron, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at Toyota SA.
Toyota was responding to a rise in crimes using sophisticated cyberattacks to exploit computer-controlled systems in modern vehicles.
The rise in such crimes has partly been attributed to increased vehicle usage since businesses reopened after the Covid-19 lockdowns, as well as a new modus operandi on the part of criminals and syndicates, such as keyless access theft.
These attacks include three modes: CAN attack, fob relaying and a combination of forced entry and key cloning.
The CAN attack happens when the vehicle’s control area network is infiltrated using highly sophisticated electronic equipment to gain entry and then access the computer system to start the engine.
Fob relaying uses receivers and transmitters to remotely read the vehicle’s security key while in the possession of the owner, allowing the attacker to unlock and start the vehicle.
The third, a combination of forced entry and key cloning, uses advanced techniques and equipment to disable the vehicle’s alarm system, and cloning its security key.
While these hi-tech crimes affect all makes of cars, Toyota SA says it has been proactively enhancing its vehicle security systems and formed allies with various parties including the SAPS to gather intelligence about new methods used by criminals.
Toyota SA says vehicle owners will not negate the warranty on their vehicles should they elect to fit an aftermarket security device, provided it is installed correctly by a reputable fitment centre.
The affected vehicles are: Hilux Legend models from 2019; all Fortuner models from 2016; Land Cruiser Prado (VX and VXL models from 2017); all Land Cruiser 200 with Smart Entry, Land Cruiser 300 and all Lexus RX and LX models from 2015.