A British-based computer scientist has been banned from publishing an academic paper revealing the secret codes used to start luxury cars including Porsches, Audis, Bentleys and Lamborghinis as it could lead to the theft of millions of vehicles, a judge has ruled.
The high court imposed an injunction on the University of Birmingham’s Flavio Garcia, a lecturer in computer science, who has cracked the security system by discovering the unique algorithm that allows the car to verify the identity of the ignition key.
The UK injunction is an interim step in a case launched by Volkswagen’s parent, which owns the four luxury marques, against Garcia and two other cryptography experts from a Dutch university.
It complained that the publication could “allow someone, especially a sophisticated criminal gang with the right tools, to break the security and steal a car”. The cars are protected by a system called Megamos Crypto, an algorithm which works out the codes that are sent between the key and the car.