Ford is keeping hackers out of its cars by putting key fobs to sleep

Next-generation Ford Focus (European version)

As cars become more advanced and increasingly connected, the possibility of people with malicious intent hacking into them only increases. Ford’s European division hopes to make life more difficult for hackers by rolling out a smart key fob that puts itself to sleep when it’s not in use. The feature isn’t available in the United States yet, but hacking isn’t merely a regional problem so it could end up here sooner rather than later.

Ford explained hackers are able to copy the information contained in a key fob, and use it to make a duplicate with relative ease. It works just like a standard fob, and it performs the same functions as the original. That means thieves can lock or unlock the car, open the trunk, and, in some cases, start the engine. Ford’s answer to this problem is a key fob that turns itself off when it detects it has been idle for over 40 seconds.

When it enters sleep mode, the fob becomes nothing more than the sum of its metal and plastic parts. It doesn’t send or receive any type of signal, so it can’t be duplicated. It automatically wakes up when it senses the owner pick it up and begin walking toward the car. It doesn’t unlock the doors until it’s about 6.5 feet away from the car, however.

Ford’s smart key fob is available now in the United Kingdom. It comes standard on the newest version of the Fiesta, and the fourth-generation Focus (pictured) will get it in May of 2019. Owners of compatible older cars can order a hacker-proof key fob from their nearest dealer for about $100. Ford hasn’t announced plans to bring the feature to North America yet, but spokesman Mike Levine told Motor Authority that the firm “will have more to share at a later date for the U.S. market.”

The Detroit-based company isn’t alone in its quest to make safer, hacker-proof cars. German supplier Bosch showcased its Perfectly Keyless technology during CES 2019. It replaces the key fob with a purpose-designed smartphone app that’s as secure as fingerprint identification. And, speaking of fingerprints, Apple’s Touch ID technology could make its way to the automotive industry in the coming years.

Cars

Texas awaits one signature to put a statewide stop to red light cameras

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs state House Bill 1631 into law, he will bring a halt to red light cameras in the state. The central issue in the bill's passage is the presumption of guilt of the registered owner of the car.
Gaming

Take the quickest route to level 70 and learn how to level grind in FFXIV

Leveling in Final Fantasy XIV seems to get easier as the level cap goes higher. With around 25 classes to level up from scratch, we outline the best and worst ways to level up each one fast.
Deals

Beat the heat this spring and summer with an affordable air conditioner

Spring is in full swing and summer is on the way, and now is the time time to shop for some deals on air conditioning units. We rounded up a selection of the best deals on cheap air conditioners and dehumidifiers going right now.
Cars

Ford aluminum truck beds prove haters wrong, are cheaper to repair than steel

Repair costs were a major concern for truck buyers when Ford launched its aluminum F-150. But insurance data indicates that, if anything, the F-150 may be cheaper to repair than traditional steel trucks.
Cars

Parents will never miss soccer practice with BMW’s new 523-horsepower SUVs

BMW is launching M Performance versions of its biggest SUVs, the X5 and X7. While not full-on M models, they do pack 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engines, allowing both SUVs to sprint from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds.
Cars

Don’t trust Tesla’s new autonomous lane-changing feature, Consumer Reports warns

Consumer Reports warns that last month's Autopilot updates that enabled automatic lane changing may put you at risk of a ticket or accident. Reaction times lagged what a human could do, testers say.
Cars

EV owners may still need to stop at a Chevron station, but not to buy gasoline

EVgo, the operator of a sizable network of electric car charging stations, has partnered with Chevron. Five Chevron stations located in California will install EVgo chargers that electric car owners can pay to use.
Cars

Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV tries to balance power and efficiency with mild-hybrid V8

The redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLE will get a V8 mild-hybrid powertrain when it launches in the United States later in 2019. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 483 hp on its own, but can also get a 21 hp electric boost.
Cars

Audi TT will get the ax to make way for electric cars — and the R8 may be next

Once a design leader, the Audi TT will meet its demise to make room in Audi's lineup for more electric cars. Audi executives confirmed plans to kill off the TT at the automaker's annual shareholder meeting.
Cars

Honda recalls 119,000 2019 CR-V crossovers over fears of airbag deployment

A manufacturing defect in select 2019 Honda CR-V crossovers could cause the airbag to malfunction and unexpectedly deploy, leading the automaker to recall some 137,000 vehicles worldwide, 118,598 of them in the U.S.
Cars

Cadillac confirms V-Series performance versions of the CT5 and CT4

Cadillac will unveil CT5-V and CT4-V sports sedans in Detroit May 30. They will be the latest cars in the General Motors luxury brand's V-Series performance line, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.
Cars

Watch Cruise Automation’s driverless car perform one of the trickiest maneuvers

Unprotected left turns in urban environments are one of the trickiest maneuvers a driver has to perform — and the same goes for self-driving cars. Autonomous-vehicle company Cruise Automation appears close to nailing it.
Mobile

Lyft’s wallet-friendly Shared Saver option arrives in six more U.S. cities

Lyft is expanding its wallet-friendly Shared Saver option to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle after launching it earlier this year in Denver, New York City, and San Jose.
Cars

How Verizon and Team Penske are using 5G to make Indy 500 race cars faster

Team Penske, the most successful race team in Indy 500 history, is using Verizon 5G in its bid to win the 2019 Indy 500. Modern race cars generate tons of data, and a 5G connection lets teams harvest that data faster.