The car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia are asking owners of some models to urgently update their car’s software, following a spate of car thefts inspired by a viral TikTok social media challenge: connect a USB to the car to start it and steal it.
Thieves known as “Kia Boyz” have released instructional videos on how to bypass vehicle security systems using simple tools like a USB cable.
The so-called “Kia Challenge” on the social media platform has led to hundreds of car thefts across the country, including at least 14 accidents reported and eight deaths, according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Thefts are reportedly easy to accomplish because many Hyundai and Kia vehicles 2015-2019 lack of immobilizers electronics that prevent thieves from simply breaking in and bypassing the ignition. The feature is standard on almost all vehicles of the same period made by other manufacturers.
Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia are pushing to update “anti-theft alarm software” to extend the alarm sound duration from 3From 0 seconds to one minute. Vehicles will also be updated to require a key in the ignition switch to start the vehicle.
The software update modifies some vehicle control modules on Hyundai vehicles equipped with standard ignition systems “key in hand start”.
Consequently, locking the doors with the remote control will activate the factory alarm and activate a “switch off” so vehicles cannot start if subjected to the popular theft mode. Customers must use their key fob to unlock their vehicles and disable the “ignition kill” feature.
Here’s what the software update will do, according to the company: “The software update modifies certain vehicle control modules in Hyundai vehicles equipped with standard ‘turnkey to start’ ignition systems. As a result, locking the doors with the remote will activate the factory alarm and will activate a “switch off” function. so vehicles cannot start if subjected to the popular theft mode. Customers must use their key fob to unlock their vehicles and disable the “ignition kill” feature.
While there are no official figures for these thefts, statistics from individual cities provide an idea of just how viral the trend has become. In Milwaukee, for example, police report that 469 Kias and 426 Hyundais were stolen in 2020. Those numbers rose the following year to 3,557 Kia and 3,406 Hyundai, according to NPR.
Approximately 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are expected to receive these updates, for a total of 8.3 million cars.
Vehicle owners are encouraged to take their cars to a local dealership, where technicians will install the updates in less than an hour. Upgraded vehicles will also receive a window decal indicating that they have been equipped with anti-theft technology.
Starting this week, owners of 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles are eligible for the upgrade.
Additional models, including Kona, Palisade and Santa Fe vehicles, will receive service beginning in June 2023.
Previously, Hyundai at least charged the owners $170 by safety kits to solve the problem. With installation and labor, those costs could rise to $500.
Hyundai and Kia also offered some owners wheel locks to prevent theft. The NTSA says the companies have delivered 26,000 wheel locks since November 2022.
Linda Price is a tech expert at News Rebeat. With a deep understanding of the latest developments in the world of technology and a passion for innovation, Linda provides insightful and informative coverage of the cutting-edge advancements shaping our world.