Hyundai and Kia Models Vulnerable to USB-Based Theft: How It Is Done

In recent years, a concerning trend has emerged in the world of auto theft: criminals are exploiting a simple tool that most of us carry daily—a USB cord.

Hyundai and Kia Models Vulnerable to USB-Based Theft
Hyundai and Kia Models Vulnerable to USB-Based Theft

Specifically, certain Hyundai and Kia models dating back to 2011 are susceptible to theft using just a screwdriver and a USB cable.

In this article, I delve into the details of this security vulnerability, highlight the affected models, and provide answers to common questions.

READ MORE: How to Reset Hyundai TPMS: A Simple Guide

The USB Theft Epidemic

The Problem

Approximately 8.3 million Hyundais and Kias, spanning from the 2011 model year, are at risk.

Hyundai and Kia Models Vulnerable to USB-Based Theft
Hyundai and Kia Models Vulnerable to USB-Based Theft

These vehicles lack proper theft immobilizers, which means that a thief armed with a screwdriver and a USB cord can easily start the engine without needing the original key.

How It Works

Criminals gain access to the car’s interior, peel back the steering column cover, and dismantle the key slot.

They then connect a USB cable to the car’s diagnostic port, effectively bypassing the security system.


The wave of thefts began in 2021 and spread nationally due to instructional videos posted on platforms like TikTok and other social media sites.

Affected Hyundai Models

1.Hyundai Accent (2018-2022)

2.Hyundai Elantra (2011-2022)

3.Hyundai Elantra GT (2013-2020)

4. Hyundai Kona (2018-2022)

6.Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (2013-2018)

7.Hyundai Santa Fe XL (2019)

8.Hyundai Sonata (2011-2019)

9.Hyundai Tucson (2011-2022)

10.Hyundai Veloster (2012-2017, 2019-2021)

11.Hyundai Venue (2020-2021)

12.Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2013-2014)

13.Hyundai Palisade (2020-2021)

Affected Kia Models

1.Kia Sportage (2011-2022)

2.Kia Optima (2011-2020)

3.Kia Sorento (2011-2022)

4.Kia Forte (2011-2021)

5.Kia Soul (2020-2022)

6.Kia Rio (2012-2021)

7.Kia Sedona (2011-2021)

8.Kia Seltos (2021-2022)

How can thieves start these cars using a USB cord?

Thieves exploit a vulnerability in the car’s security system by connecting a USB cable to the diagnostic port, allowing them to bypass the immobilizer and start the engine.

Why do these models lack proper theft immobilizers?

Finally, The absence of theft immobilizers in older models was a design oversight. Newer models now come equipped with improved security features.

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