A Ghost in the Machine - Intelligent Protection Against Vehicle Theft
Posted: May 31, 2017
Electronic vehicle theft is becoming a serious issue. Anyone who makes a living doing courier jobs is at risk of having their livelihood threatened by the new breed of commercial vehicle thieves who can make off with a car or van without ever needing to physically break into it.
Today's criminals are using hi-tech methods to over-ride electronic security systems to gain access to a vehicle's Engine Control Unit (ECU). It's big business and the vast majority of stolen vehicles are never recovered, as they're dismantled and sold off for parts. For fleet operators or self employed drivers relying on courier jobs for their wages, the loss of a vehicle is at best an inconvenience and at worst catastrophic.
In response to the huge increase in electronic vehicle theft, security system manufacturers have had to come up with more and more sophisticated methods of stopping the criminals in their tracks. One such solution is the Ghost Immobiliser.
A Ghost in Your Machine
The Ghost Immobiliser is touted as the "world's first after market CAN bus immobiliser", protecting a vehicle from hacking, key theft and key cloning. It was introduced to the UK in late 2016, by Intelligent Installations; the company provides a managed support solution by using a network of highly trained engineers based out in the field.
How it Works
The Controller Area Network (CAN bus) is the nerve centre of a modern vehicle, allowing separate electronic units to communicate with each other without the need for a host computer. Because the CAN bus is the entry point for today's tech-smart criminals, the Ghost Immobiliser also connects through the system, using it to "speak" to the Engine Control Unit (ECU).
The distributers describe it as "chip and pin for your car", because there are no key fobs to carry, or in fact anything that even gives a clue it's installed. How? It uses the buttons that are already fitted in the vehicle (like those on the console, steering wheel or door) to let users create a pin number (up to 20 digits) that must be entered before the vehicle will mobilise.
While it does need professional installation, the engineers come to the clients and not vice versa, so there's minimal inconvenience.
The system is compatible with a large range of vehicle models including high-profile commercial manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault, Mercedes, Fiat, BMW and many more. Testing is on-going and the compatibility list is increasing all the time.
Aside from those mentioned above, some of its other intelligent features include:
- Undetectable by diagnostics tools
- Installation does not include any wire cutting
- Does not emit radio frequency signals
- User is in control of PIN (can be changed)
- Fitted with unique emergency code if PIN is forgotten
- Uses existing CAN data network
The Ghost Immobiliser is available in the UK for a cost of £499.00 including installation and VAT. (Contact the company for fleet/trade enquiries.)
For independent operators doing low volume courier jobs, or fleet managers who need to install it in multiple vehicles, the outlay may seem a little daunting. But compare it to the loss of a vehicle and the scales certainly tip a little more evenly. Add to that the fact that insurance premiums may reduce with the installation of a system like this (check with individual service providers) and it is certainly an investment well worth considering.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.