Posted: February 17, 2023 by Jovi Umawing
“Car manufacturer Hyundai, and its subsidiary Kia, began rolling out a free software update on February 14, 2023, to address a flaw in their anti-theft software, which was highlighted in a social media challenge. The release of the update came nine months after an uptick in car theft of the affected models in the US. Outside the US, victims in Australia also came forward.
“The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on,” said the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “The effort is in response to a TikTok social media challenge that has spread nationwide and has resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.”
The “Kia Challenge” went viral on TikTok in August 2022. Thieves, known as “Kia Boys” or “Kia Boyz”, showed how to bypass Kia’s security system using simple tools like a screwdriver and a USB cable. It is said this method of thieving is so easy because many 2015-2019 Kias and Hyundais lack electronic immobilizers, which use electronic signals to deter thieves from hot-wiring cars.
The teens instructed viewers to forcefully remove the covering of the steering column (located just below the steering wheel) to expose a slot where a USB-A plug then comes into play.
From what we have gathered, the viral TikTok video was a snippet from a Tommy G YouTube documentary entitled Kia Boys Documentary (A Story of Teenage Car Theft). The scene in question was found in the last bit of the video.
Only cars that use keys seem susceptible to this kind of theft. Push-to-start cars, which are vehicles that you start by pushing a button, are immune.”
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