According to local automotive intelligence, criminals are now employing sophisticated technology to target high-end and luxury vehicles equipped with keyless or smart entry systems and emergency start capabilities. The increase in these crimes has been attributed in part to increased vehicle usage since businesses reopened following the COVID-19-induced lockdown, as well as a new mode of operation for criminals and syndicates, such as keyless access theft.

While this phenomenon affects all automotive brands and car models, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) confirms that it has been conducting extensive research and development into the enhancement of its vehicle security systems.

The TSAM research and development team took a proactive approach, forming alliances with various parties, including the South African Police Services, to gather intelligence about the new methods used by criminals in SA when stealing cars. The intelligence gathered revealed that thieves use highly sophisticated cyber-attacks to exploit the vehicle’s computer-controlled systems.

There are three types of attacks: CAN Attack, Fob Relaying, and a combination of Forced Entry and Key Cloning.

The CAN Attack occurs when highly sophisticated electronic equipment is used to gain access to the vehicle’s Control Area Network and then access the computer system to start the engine.

Fob Relaying is accomplished by remotely reading the vehicle’s security key while it is in the possession of the owner, allowing the attacker to unlock and start the vehicle.

The third method, a combination of Forced Entry and Key Cloning, is carried out by disabling the vehicle’s alarm system and then cloning its security key.

TSAM has developed several measures to mitigate potential theft of Toyota and Lexus-branded vehicles in the country after studying the methods mentioned above. These improvements have already been communicated to the Toyota dealer network via a series of practical online sessions and bulletins. Furthermore, the enhancements have been reviewed and evaluated by VSS Administration, a South African independent organization that specializes in vehicle security and automotive systems.

“We, as Toyota, are committed to developing safe and reliable vehicles, and we will continue with our research and development to further enhance our vehicle security systems,” says Leon Theron, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TSAM. I’d also like to point out that fitting an aftermarket security device to a vehicle does not void the warranty if done correctly by a reputable fitment center.”

Customers who own the above-mentioned vehicle models can take them to their nearest dealership for security upgrades beginning in the first week of December, according to Theron. He concluded that new vehicles, as well as those brought in for service, will automatically receive these upgrades. All of this will be done at no cost to the customer.


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