Government of Canada Says It Will Improve Vehicle Theft Prevention Technologies

The Government of Canada today announced it would ban the Flipper Zero, a product which allows users to explore wireless signals under 1 GHz, hardware protocols, and infrared. That is the headline story emerging from yesterday’s National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft. But there is more to talk about.

There has been a significant spike in car thefts in Canada. (I am unable to link to the specific chart but, if you select “total theft of motor vehicle” from the “Violations” list, you will see the increase that occurred in 2022, and which has likely continued to rise.) These are not thefts of Hyundais and Kias because vehicle immobilizers have been required since 2007. Notably, the 105,673 auto thefts which occurred in 2022 — the most recent year reported by Statistics Canada — remains well below the 146,000 reported in 2007.

The main difference is in which cars are stolen. The top three cars are fairly typical, but at number four are Lexus RX models, and number five are Toyota Highlanders. The Range Rover came in at number eight, but take a look at the theft frequency: nearly four percent of insured vehicles were reported stolen. These cars often end up being exported.

Which brings me to the parts of the Government’s press release that actually interest me:

Additionally, the Government of Canada is using the tools and authorities it has to further curb auto theft:


  • Transport Canada will modernize the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to ensure they consider technological advancements to deter and prevent auto theft. […]

This, and a further statement pledging to “work with Canadian companies, including the automotive industry, to develop innovative solutions to protect vehicles against theft”, give me hope for a more secure standard that will help in the same way immobilizers did in 2007. Keyless entry exploits are not a new phenomenon. You can almost count on the subject appearing at DEF CON annually. Manufacturers have failed to take this seriously and stricter standards are overdue. Alas, there are currently no specifics and, it should be noted, millions of cars on the road in Canada will remain vulnerable even after new security requirements are introduced.