Ford rolls out new key fob technology to stop hackers

April 12, 2019

Hackers beware of Ford's latest key fob technology. The automaker said Wednesday that it will begin to introduce new technology that puts its key fobs into a sleep mode to prevent them from being hacked. A duplicated key fob could be used to steal a vehicle. 

The automaker is launching the tech first in the United Kingdom on its Fiesta and Focus small cars. Owners of the most recent Fiesta and latest-generation Focus can have their key fobs upgraded for a price from the dealership. The technology works by activating a sleep mode on the key fob.

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When the key has been stationary for at least 40 seconds, the fob will be unresponsive and enter a sleep mode. Hackers will not be able to access its functions through various equipment. Hackers can use what is called a "relay box" to extend a signal and unlock, lock, and start a car without the owner's doing. Picking up the key fob and walking to the car will restore full key fob functions by the time an owner reaches the car.

Ford said the key fobs are programmed to only work within 6.5 feet of the car they are programmed to unlock and operate.

At least for now, the tech isn't crossing the pond to the U.S. 

"We’ll have more news to share about this technology at a later date," a Ford spokesman in the U.S. told The Car Connection.

For British buyers, the new key fobs will be standard with new Fiesta models shipping to dealers now. Next month, new Focus models will include the equipment as standard.

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