Hyundai and Kia fix ‘Kick Boyz Challenge hack’

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Older models were bizarrely easy to steal with a USB cable and smartphone

The news that some Hyundai and Kia models, especially sold in the US, were bizarrely easy to steal, hit like a bomb last summer. Thanks to a TikTok Challenge. All thieves needed was a slightly older Hyundai or Kia (between 2015 and 1019) that did not come standard with an immobilizer, a smartphone and a USB cable.

Videos appeared online demonstrating exactly how to start such a Kia or Hyundai. We are now more than half a year later and Kia and Hyundai have closed the ‘leak’.

Software updates

To solve the problem, the two manufacturers, which are closely related and partly use the same (software) platform, have developed a software update. It is installed free of charge with the relevant models.

After the update it is no longer possible to start the cars without the original, genuine, key. A large part of the problem was that with the right actions, these Kia’s and Hyundai’s could be started with a USB cable in the ignition lock.

Only start with the original key

The fix also ensures that the car can no longer be started when the doors are locked. And if the alarm is triggered, the alarm sound from the horn will now sound for a minute instead of 30 seconds. All models that have received new software will also receive a sticker from Hyundai and Kia stating that the car in question has been provided with the anti-theft update.

The roll-out of the fix, for which customers have to come to the garage, will take some time. Hyundai has decided to update the models most vulnerable to the ‘ignition lock hack’ first. Kia indicates that it will take several months before all affected cars are updated.

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