Kia and Hyundai released a software update Monday after a viral TikTok challenge taught users how to hack the vehicles. But for now, it’s only available for a select million vehicles, out of the four million cars that will eventually need the patch.
It started out as a “Kia Challenge,” which dates back to at least May on TikTok, demonstrating how “Kia Boys” use USB cables to short-circuit cars. Owners soon noticed the widespread theft and began suing the automakers for lack of response. The class-action lawsuit said certain models of Kia and Hyundai cars lacked immobilizers, a common device that deters car theft and facilitates access, TechCrunch reported last September.
Car owners of affected models such as the 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata and 2020-2021 Venue can visit a local dealership to have the anti-theft update installed, Hyundai said in a press release. Updates include an anti-theft sticker to ward off attacks, a longer alarm, and the need for a physical key to turn on the vehicle instead of a simple starter. Updates for other affected vehicles will be available by June and you can find the full list on Hyundai’s website.
Meanwhile, Kia and Hyundai have provided about 26,000 steering wheel locks to vehicle owners to deter theft, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA became embroiled in the saga after thefts sparked by the Kia Challenge resulted in at least 14 reported accidents and eight deaths, the agency said, turning it into a public safety matter.
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