Kia and Hyundai issue anti-theft updates in response to viral TikTok challenge that led...


Posts: 8,631   +107
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In brief: Owners of certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles can breathe a sigh of relief after the Korean car makers said they were rolling out software updates to address an issue that led to the "Kia challenge," a viral TikTok trend that has resulted in multiple thefts, injuries, and deaths.

The Kia challenge began circulating on TikTok in the middle of 2021 and has been picking up steam ever since. The clips show how it's possible to remove the steering column covering on some 2010-2021 Hyundai and Kia vehicles, revealing a slot that fits a USB-A plug. Turning the plug using a standard USB cable activates the ignition as the cars lack an immobilizer. Only vehicles that use a mechanical key rather than press-to-start ignition systems are susceptible to the technique.

CNBC reports that the challenge led to an 85% increase in the number of Hyundai and Kia vehicle thefts in Los Angeles in 2022 compared to the previous year, while police in St. Petersburg, Florida, say more than a third of thefts in the area between last July and September were related to the TikTok challenge. Chicago, meanwhile, saw thefts of these cars spike by 800%.

Yesterday, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the Kia challenge has been responsible for 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.

Kia and its parent company Hyundai will soon push out free software updates that will require the key to be in the ignition switch to start affected vehicles. Both companies are rolling out the updates in a phased approach starting later this month. Hyundai is also providing its customers with a window sticker alerting would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection, which will hopefully deter anyone looking to try the challenge.

Hyundai's own advisory notes that almost 4 million vehicles will receive the update, with the upgrade rolling out first to more than 1 million model year 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata, and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles.

The NHTSA's press release adds that both companies have been working with law enforcement agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks since November 2022 to 77 law enforcement agencies in 12 states.

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Posts: 3,468   +3,181
"pushing out updates requiring the key to be in the ignition"

Does the key have to be in the "on" position, or just having a key in the ignition?
You can get a "shaved" key to fit pretty easy.


Posts: 1,122   +930
Thank you for this information! This will help protect my grandma from getting her car stolen who's over 80 years old.

The funny part is that it states California and Chicago which is known for high crime and a lack of commonsense.When I read the story the same thing popped in my mind to be honest.I bet they were foaming from the mouth when they put the two together......................Cha Ching it's like stealing candy from a baby.
Hopefully we get a sequel to "tide pods 2.0"


Posts: 70   +119
"Yesterday, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the Kia challenge has been responsible for 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities."

I guess thieves being thieves, and doing what thieves do, had nothing to do with it?

Aus spot

Posts: 159   +159
This annoys me, kia is not a child company of hyundai. Nor is hyundai kia’s parent. They have cross invested in each other. I know wikipedia says kia is 33% owned by hyundai and that is correct, and although the text says kia is a child company, when you look at definition link in wikipedia, it says 50% ownership is needed. Also kia has part ownership of many hyundai subsidiary company’s. So the ownership is both ways.


Posts: 429   +288
Why did it take a TikTok challenge for them to discover and fix this vulnerability? One would think that car companies would have security researchers dedicated to finding flaws such as these.

People can't find every problem since there are billions of variables.


Posts: 188   +152
Sure, but one would think a USB port on the steering column would be an obvious test case.

Sure... more so in this day and age! It reminds me of another brand that you can start using a hacked JBL BT speaker! The device was sold for about 5000€ in France, you just had to plug the speaker on the USB port under the dashboard, and the car would start! All major brands have had problems with their cars since the advent of the "electronics everywhere" fad. You'd think they'd learned a thing or two by now...