On July 12, 2022, a video surfaced on TikTok demonstrating the use of a USB connector to successfully hotwire a car by inserting it into an exposed key slot. This security flaw is present in certain ignition switch designs found in numerous Kia and Hyundai vehicles sold until 2021, which lack an immobilizer system for added theft deterrence. The TikTok video came with a challenge to replicate the hack, and less than a year later, Washington auto thefts have increased by 45%. Police departments have started issuing Kia and Hyundai owners free wheel locks to deter future thefts.
Kia and Hyundai have since responded with a campaign to update the software on over 8 million eligible vehicles, but 23 Attorneys General say it isn’t enough.
Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul, AG Bob Ferguson, and attorneys general from 21 other states want Kia and Hyundai to do something about their cars that keep getting stolen. On Monday, the AGs sent a letter to Kia and Hyundai, pressing them for solutions.
“Alarmingly high rates of theft of these vehicles have been sustained over a long period of time. Your consumers continue to be harmed as a result, and worse yet, the thefts contribute to an erosion of public safety as they are frequently accompanied by reckless driving and the commission of other crimes, further endangering our communities,” the letter states. “While your companies are reported to have taken some steps to address this crisis, it hasn’t been enough, and it hasn’t been done fast enough.”
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