Security experts: Remotes are hackable on many vehicles

By David McHugh


FRANKFURT _ A group of computer security experts say they figured out how to hack the keyless entry systems used on millions of cars, meaning that thieves could in theory break and steal items without leaving a broken window.

The experts say that remote entry systems on millions of cars made by Volkswagen since 1995 can be cloned to permit unauthorized access to the car’s interior.

The same experts say another system used by other brands including Ford, General Motor’s Opel and Chevrolet and Renault can also be defeated.

In a paper to be delivered Friday at the Usenix security conference in Austin, Texas, the authors say a thief could use commonly available equipment to intercept entry codes as they are transmitted by radio frequency, and then use that information to clone another remote so the car could be opened.

Volkswagen said its latest models such as the Golf, Tiguan, Touran and Passat were not affected. It said it was having a “constructive exchange” with the experts aimed at improving security technology.

“The bar for theft prevention is constantly being raised, but ultimately there is no comprehensive guarantee for security,” the company said in a statement.

The paper leaves out key details on how to perform the hack but says the codes can be intercepted with commercially available equipment.

“It is unclear whether such attacks… are currently carried out in the wild by criminals,” the report says.  “However, there have been various media reports about unexplained theft from locked vehicles in the last years.”

The report did not establish the exact number of cars that use the vulnerable systems.

General Motors said that it  “does not consider this item to be a significant risk to customers due to the technical sophistication of the demonstration and the very limited circumstances under which the demonstration can be carried out.”

The company added that “the issue in question does not impact the operation of the vehicle or the safety of its occupants.”

The report authors said that insurance companies might have to accept that car theft scenarios that would otherwise be considered insurance fraud have a higher probability of being genuine. The only surefire countermeasure, they said, would be to stop using the remote and fall back on the mechanical lock using the conventional metal key.


Drivers still liable in accidents, even in near driverless cars, says law firm

By Terry Pedwell


OTTAWA _ Until Canadians own cars that truly drive themselves, they can forget getting off the legal hook if they’re in an accident with a vehicle that still has a steering wheel, suggests a report from Canada’s biggest law firm.

Under Canada’s common-law legal system, driving in semi-autonomous mode isn’t much different than operating a vehicle with cruise control, says the brief issued by Borden Ladner Gervais.

“As long as a driver with some ability to assume or resume control of the vehicle is present, there would seem to be a continuing basis for driver negligence and liability as they presently exist,” said the report entitled Autonomous Vehicles, Revolutionizing Our World, published this week on the firm’s website.

The report comes as the federal government contemplates developing regulations for automated vehicles. Ottawa set aside $7.3 million over two years in the spring budget to improve motor vehicle safety, with part of that money earmarked for developing new rules for self-driving cars.

But until fully autonomous vehicles hit the consumer market, there’s not much need to enact new laws, says BLG partner and report author Kevin LaRoche.

“With regards to driver liability, common law, coupled with the current legislation, may be sufficient to address liability involving all levels of autonomous vehicles, short of fully autonomous vehicles which do not require any level of human control,” LaRoche wrote.

“For fully autonomous vehicles, it would seem that legislative amendments would be required to clarify whether the owner would be vicariously liable and under what circumstances.”

Several jurisdictions have allowed testing of fully autonomous cars, buses and trucks. Ontario launched a program in January under specific restrictions _ to let auto manufacturers and high-tech companies try out their driverless inventions on the province’s roadways. None of the carmakers had applied for a testing permit under the program as of early July.

But with semi-autonomous vehicles such as the Tesla Model S already being sold to consumers, few jurisdictions have yet put legislative parentheses around where, when and how to drive them.

Ontario uses the SAE Standard to define categories of self-driveability on a scale from zero to five, with zero representing no automation features and five being full automation.

Category three vehicles are those considered to operate with conditional automation that requires a driver to pay attention to the road and take over control if the vehicle encounters a problem that can’t be handled fully by automated systems.

Category four vehicles would still have a human “driver,” but wouldn’t necessarily need the human to take over the controls in a pinch.

Germany’s federal transport ministry said recently it was working on a draft law to govern SAE level three and four cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States is working on new guidelines, but currently regulates autonomous vehicles under a slightly different system that was adopted in 2013.

Regardless of which scale is used, unless the car has no steering wheel, the driver will always face potential liability in an accident, with the scope depending on the circumstances of the mishap, said BLG partner Robert Love.

“There’s always going to be, we believe, that element of saying, ‘Did the driver act appropriately, prudently, in the circumstances of either engaging or disengaging whatever feature it happens to be?”’ said Love.

It will be up to Canadian judges to decide, however, who is ultimately responsible for causing an accident in Canada _ and that could also include the carmaker, he said.

Lawyers and legislators in the U.S. may already have their first test case in Florida following a recent fatal crash involving a Tesla and a tractor-trailer.

While investigators have revealed few details about the exact circumstances of the crash, there have been reports that the driver may have been distracted by a movie playing in his car.

The question for a judge may ultimately revolve around whether the driver was at fault for failing to pay attention to road hazards, or whether the sensors connected to the Tesla’s autopilot system failed to detect the white truck as it turned into the path of the car.

And it’ll be the judge who ends up portioning the blame, if there is any to be had, LaRoche predicted.

“Both parties will ultimately be before the court.”


Solving Your Road Safety Problem

WD-101_Const._Ahead.thumbnailEveryone would like to feel safe in their neighbourhood and that extends to having everyone else obey the driving rules when they are in it. So, what do you do when this is not the case? The answer depends on how much you want to become involved in the solution.

Years of contact with people through this site has taught me that most people either want a sympathetic ear to listen to their complaint or expect someone else, most often the police, to solve the problem after being notified about it. These people do not want to become involved beyond this point, after providing the information it is now an issue for someone else to solve.

Drawing the attention of road safety authorities to a problem is the right place to start though. You have intimate knowledge of your neighbourhood and it’s problems because you live there. You know how often drivers don’t follow the speed limit, don’t stop for stop signs and where the common crash locations are.

The best way to make general complaints is in writing. Although the default agency is often the police, your local MLA, the road maintenance contractor or the district office of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure may be a better choice, depending on the problem. Provide them with a comprehensive description of the problem as you see it including as much detail as you are able to.

I still admire the initiative one man took to measure speeding vehicles that passed his home. He measured the distance between two telephone poles beside the highway that were visible from his kitchen window. When he had a few spare minutes, he’d sit at the kitchen table with a stopwatch and measure the time between poles for passing traffic. That time was easily turned into a speed that he recorded along with when it occurred. He now had accurate information that he could present to police that backed up his opinion.

You could choose to make an appointment with the local manager of the appropriate service and present your issue personally. The manager will then have a person to go with the complaint that could serve to make it more immediate. Discuss the problems, the possible solutions and obtain a commitment to do something.

Follow up on the commitment after a reasonable time. If some action has been taken you have started down the road to a solution. If not, find out why, as this is important to your next step if you choose to continue to obtain a solution.

If the Ministry does not have the budget for an improvement or the police don’t have the manpower for more frequent patrols, this is an issue to solve along the way, not an excuse for failing to take action.

The internet can be a gold mine for those who want to make a difference. Chances are good that someone else has had the same problem and may already have a reasonable solution. You could join or create a group and lobby more effectively. If you are careful of the source, it is also a great place to do research and learn more about your issue which may provide a path to a solution.

Generally, problems do not go away by themselves. Complain constructively and be a part of the solution. Also, make sure that you are not part of the problem, in your neighbourhood or someone else’s.

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

Avoid risky behaviour and prevent bad habits when learning how to drive, ICBC urges

Avoid risky behaviour and prevent bad habits when learning how to drive, ICBC urges

Now that summer’s in full swing, teenagers are taking advantage of the school break to learn how to drive. Summer is the busiest time at Driver Licensing Offices. In August alone, an average of 5,500 B.C. teens get their learner’s licence.

Although youth injuries and deaths from car crashes are declining in B.C., on average, 32 youth aged 16 to 21 are killed and 6,900 are injured every year. That’s why it’s important for teens to get a good start to their driving careers by building strong foundational skills that will make them safe and confident drivers for life.

When young drivers hit the road for the first time, they get a sense of newfound freedom and independence. But driver inexperience and overestimation of ability contribute to crashes.

ICBC’s top five tips for parents teaching their teen to drive

  1. Review the rules: Once your teen has their class 7 learner’s licence, they can hit the road with a qualified supervisor. Review your teen’s copy of ICBC’s Tuning Up for Drivers guide to brush up on the rules of the road and learn about the restrictions of each stage of the graduated licensing program so that you can make sure your teen follows them. This is also a great time to work on any of your own bad driving habits to set a good example for the new driver in your house.
  2. Gearing up: The type of car your teen learns to drive on can make a big difference. It’s best to learn on a vehicle that’s a manageable size, has good visibility, an automatic transmission and as many safety features as possible. Begin your driving lessons on roads with minimal traffic and avoid rush hour congestion to help build your teen’s confidence and ease their nerves. A driving lesson can be stressful for both teens and parents, so it’s a time to stay calm, focused on the road and avoid any distractions.
  3. Call in the experts: To help your teen gain as much driving experience as possible consider signing them up for lessons through a professional driving school, if you can. Instructors can be objective without the emotion that’s often involved in parent-teen relationships. If you do choose this route, stay involved and discuss what they’re learning. ICBC-approved driver training could take six months off a new driver’s time in graduated licensing.
  4. Test it out: To prepare for your teen’s road test, practice driving as much as possible at different times of the day, in different weather and road conditions and in unfamiliar neighbourhoods. That way they’ll be prepared for whatever conditions they encounter on the day of their road test. Teens can also take ICBC’s road ready quiz to help them avoid common driving mistakes.
  5. Keep them safe: Once your teen has passed their class 7 road test and can now drive without a supervisor, consider creating a family contract. It helps set out your expectations of your teen, the responsibilities you want them to show on the road and the consequences for breaking those rules.

If your teen will be driving your vehicle, review your insurance coverage. If your vehicle is rated in an experienced rate class (all drivers in a household with at least 10 years’ driving experience), you’ll need to change the rate class.

Teens can find the redesigned practice knowledge test, video driving tips and road signs practice test on The practice knowledge test can also be downloaded as an app free from the Apple Store.

Media contact:

Sam Corea

Top-Ranked Cars, Trucks, and SUVs in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. APEAL Study

  • Abstract:

    This year, a total of 25 models receive an award for their overall appeal to consumers. Displayed in alphabetical order by make and model on the pages that follow are the models that rank highest in their respective segments.

    Conducted annually, the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM measures owner satisfaction with the design, performance, content, and layout of new vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. The study is based on owner responses regarding 90 individual vehicle attributes, and more than 80,000 new car, truck, SUV, and van owners responded to the 2016 U.S. APEAL Study.

    This year, a total of 25 models receive an award for their overall appeal to consumers. Displayed in alphabetical order by make and model on the pages that follow are the models that rank highest in their respective segments.

  • 2016 Audi A6 photo

    2016 Audi A6

    In the Midsize Premium Car segment, the Audi A6 is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. While it looks mighty similar to the previous A6 model, the 2016 version receives subtle styling updates, more powerful engines, a new standard transmission, and more modern infotainment and subscription service technologies.

  • 2016 BMW M2 Coupe photo

    2016 BMW 2 Series

    In the Small Premium Car segment, the BMW 2 Series is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. This year, BMW introduced the high-performance M2 Coupe model and made numerous changes to standard and optional equipment for both the coupe and convertible variants.

  • 2016 BMW X1 photo

    2016 BMW X1

    In the Small Premium SUV segment, the BMW X1 is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Redesigned for 2016, the X1 supplies what BMW calls “best-in-class performance (and) cargo space.” A 228-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine powers the rear or all four wheels.

  • 2016 BMW X6 xDrive50i photo

    2016 BMW X6

    In the Midsize Premium SUV segment, the BMW X6 is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. More standard equipment and several changes to optional upgrades help to make BMW’s Sports Activity Coupe more appealing than ever.

  • 2016 Buick Cascada photo

    2016 Buick Cascada

    In the Compact Sporty Car segment, the Buick Cascada is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016 in its first year on the market. A 4-passenger convertible based on an older Opel model that was designed and engineered in Europe, the Cascada features a turbocharged, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible photo

    2016 Chevrolet Camaro

    In the Midsize Sporty Car segment, the Chevrolet Camaro is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. For the 2016 model year Chevy redesigned the Camaro, offering it with a choice between a turbocharged 4-cylinder, V-6, or a V-8 engine. Coupe and convertible body styles can be fitted with LT or SS trim.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel photo

    2016 Chevrolet Colorado

    In the Midsize Pickup segment, the Chevrolet Colorado is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. In addition to new appearance options, the 2016 Colorado now offers a 2.8-liter, Duramax turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine as an option. Updated versions of MyLink infotainment also arrive this year, and Chevy has reduced the truck’s powertrain warranty.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Sonic photo

    2016 Chevrolet Sonic

    In the Small Car segment, the Chevrolet Sonic is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Few changes are made for the 2016 model year, and a reduced powertrain warranty evidently hasn’t hurt the Sonic’s overall appeal.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 photo

    2016 Chevrolet Tahoe

    In the Large SUV segment, the Chevrolet Tahoe is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Improved infotainment and driver-assistance technologies debut for 2016, and though Chevrolet reduced the Tahoe’s powertrain warranty, owners still rate the Tahoe as the most appealing full-size SUV on the market.

  • 2016 GMC Sierra HD All Terrain photo

    2016 GMC Sierra HD

    In the Large Heavy Duty Pickup segment, the GMC Sierra HD is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Despite a powertrain warranty reduction and a new requirement to pay extra for metallic paint, the Sierra HD leads its segment in terms of appeal with new Digital Steering Assist technology, improved infotainment systems, and a factory gooseneck fifth-wheel trailering package.

  • 2016 Hyundai Tucson photo

    2016 Hyundai Tucson

    In the Small SUV segment, the Hyundai Tucson is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Hyundai redesigned the Tucson for 2016, improving it in every conceivable way. Highlights include attractive styling, more powerful and efficient engines, and next-generation infotainment and safety technologies.

  • 2016 Kia Optima photo

    2016 Kia Optima

    In the Midsize Car segment, the Kia Optima is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Redesigned for 2016, the Optima offers a choice between four drivetrains, including a more efficient hybrid version. The SX Limited trim returns, too, an entry-luxury variant in all respects but its name.

  • 2016 Kia Sedona photo

    2016 Kia Sedona

    In the Minivan segment, the Kia Sedona is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Looking more like a crossover SUV than a minivan, the Sedona follows up a 2015 redesign with added standard equipment and expanded availability of upscale options in an 8-passenger seating configuration.

  • 2016 Kia Sorento photo

    2016 Kia Sorento

    In the Midsize SUV segment, the Kia Sorento is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Kia completely redesigned the Sorento for 2016, adding a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine option and moving the swanky SX Limited version further upscale. Kia offers the SUV in both 5- and 7-passenger configurations.

  • 2016 Kia Soul photo

    2016 Kia Soul

    In the Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle segment, the Kia Soul is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. This year, the Soul is available with forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, and Kia adds standard equipment and shuffles option package contents.

  • 2016 Land Rover Range Rover photo

    2016 Land Rover Range Rover

    In the Large Premium SUV segment, the Land Rover Range Rover is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. New SVAutobiography and special-order Sentinel variants debut for 2016, the latter a factory-prepped armored vehicle. Hands-free tailgate operation, expanded infotainment capabilities, and an upgraded surround-view camera system highlight additional changes.

  • 2016 Lexus RC 350 F Sport photo

    2016 Lexus RC

    In the Compact Premium Car segment, the Lexus RC is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Lexus adds a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the standard power plant and makes all-wheel drive an option with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Expanded infotainment capabilities and an optional limited-slip rear differential are also new for 2016.

  • 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman photo

    2016 Mini Clubman

    In the Compact Car segment, the Mini Clubman is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Redesigned this year, the Clubman is the largest Mini model ever, with seating for up to 5 people. It retains its classic barn-door cargo access, but now comes with four full-sized side doors for greater ease of use. Standard and S versions can be customized through an extensive list of upgrades.

  • 2016 Nissan Maxima photo

    2016 Nissan Maxima

    In the Large Car segment, the Nissan Maxima is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Redesigned for 2016, the Maxima is wrapped in unusual styling that embodies Nissan’s latest design themes. More power, better fuel economy, improved handling, and a long list of technological advances headline the changes for the latest Maxima.

  • 2016 Nissan Titan XD photo

    2016 Nissan Titan

    In the Large Light Duty Pickup segment, the Nissan Titan is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Redesigned and offered in an XD model series that splits the difference between light-duty and heavy-duty trucks in terms of capability, the Titan XD offers an optional turbodiesel engine in addition to a standard crew cab body style. Nissan is expanding the Titan lineup for 2017.

  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS photo

    2016 Porsche 911

    In the Midsize Premium Sporty Car segment, the Porsche 911 is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. A broad range of model series is available, in coupe, targa, and convertible body styles. New variants for the model year include the Targa 4 GTS, 911 GT3 RS, and the 911 R.

  • 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder photo

    2016 Porsche Boxster

    In the Compact Premium Sporty Car segment, the Porsche Boxster is the top-ranked model for overall appeal 2016. In its final year before a substantial freshening and name change to 718 Boxster, the Boxster is offered as a new lightweight Spyder variant equipped with the same 375-horsepower engine as the 911 Carrera.

  • 2016 Porsche Macan S photo

    2016 Porsche Macan

    In the Compact Premium SUV segment, the Porsche Macan is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Available in S and Turbo model series, the Macan adds a new, optional rear-seat entertainment system for 2016, complete with dual 10.1-in. displays, USB and HDMI connections, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

  • 2016 Smart Fortwo Cabrio photo

    2016 Smart Fortwo

    In the City Car segment, the Smart Fortwo is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Smart’s spry 2-seater is redesigned for 2016, equipped with a 0.9-liter, turbocharged 3-cylinder engine and available in Pure, Passion, Prime, and Proxy trim levels. An electric version continues, based on the previous-generation Smart design.

  • 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE photo

    2016 Toyota RAV4

    In the Compact SUV segment, the Toyota RAV4 is the top-ranked model for overall appeal in 2016. Toyota refreshes the RAV4 for 2016, updating the styling, upgrading the interior, and improving the infotainment and safety systems. A sporty SE trim debuts, as well as an all-wheel-drive RAV4 Hybrid that is EPA-rated to get 33 mpg in combined driving.

Auto industry vital to Canada

Auto industry vital to Canada

Press Release:

The auto industry is vital to Canada’s economic wellbeing, employing 125,400 people acrossCanada while contributing millions to taxes and local charities, new research from Unifor shows.

“The auto industry is important to the Canadian economy generally, and absolutely vital in the communities where assembly and parts plants are located,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

Across Canada, 125,400 people are employed directly in the auto industry, producing 2,268,996 cars and light trucks (or 6,216 per day) worth $93.5 billion in 2015, (or $256 million per day).

“That kind of output of manufacturing goods, and the good jobs that come with it, is not easily replaced,” Dias said. “That’s why we have made securing new investment the number one priority for this year’s auto talks.”

Negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers begin August 10 and 11 in Toronto. Unifor has made new investment in Canada, including new product allocations, the top priority of the talks.

Besides the production and economic output, Dias pointed to the taxes paid and charitable giving of autoworkers, and their importance to the communities in which they live. Across Canada, auto workers contributed $1.9 billion in income, payroll and sales taxes (or $5.2 million per day).

“That money goes to support services that we all depend upon, such as health care, education and social services – the sorts of things that make Canada such a great place to live,” Dias said, adding that auto workers are also active in their communities, volunteering their time and donating to charity.

To review Unifor’s research reports and for other background materials prepared for this year’s round of auto talks, go to

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including more than 40,000 in the auto industry, including 23,000 employed by the Detroit Three. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest