While the standardised EOBD port is essential to ensure that repairers outside of the closed main dealer network can access a vehicle’s systems, it poses notable security issues, especially on cars fitted with keyless entry. While car manufacturers ensure that a key unit’s signal possesses rolling combinations, the German automotive organisation, ADAC, tested 24 different cars with keyless technology recently and thwarted all of them using a simple homemade electronic device.
In the real world, a criminal can place a jamming device near the vehicle to block out the weaker signal from the fob as the owner walks away. The thief is then free to simply open the door once the owner is out of sight and insert a readily available key-cloning tool into the car’s on-board diagnostic socket. This makes the car think that the real fob is present and deactivates the immobiliser.
Alternatively, the owner can be followed by one thief with an electronic device to extend the range of the car key fob, while an accomplice waits by the vehicle and uses the signal to open the door.
If your car is a desirable model (such as Ford’s ST/RS range), you should protect the EOBD socket. You can do this by either buying Thatcham-approved equipment that will physically cover the port, install electronic equipment that requires authorisation to access communication (as pictured), or seek out a kit that can relocate your EOBD socket and place a dummy one in the standard position.