Ford Debuts Anti-Theft Key Fob in U.K.

Ford Motor Co. has developed a new system to help prevent unauthorized users from hacking into electronic key fobs.

The technology, which is being introduced this spring in the U.K., uses a motion sensor that will put the key fob into sleep mode if it has been stationary for more than 40 seconds. Ford says the key fob must be within seven feet of the vehicle before remote lock/unlock and start functions are enabled. 

Ford says its system blocks the “relay” system thieves have used to hack conventional fobs. Such systems use a radio device to capture encrypted information from an owner’s fob when the fob is 300 ft or more away from the vehicle. The data is then rebroadcast to a second device that mimics the actual fob and unlocks the vehicle.

Ford is standardizing the new technology on two 2019 model small cars in the U.K.: the Focus (pictured) and Fiesta. Fiesta/Focus owners also can have their dealer retrofit the technology into their key fobs for about $90.