Flaws of Car Tracking Devices and How to Overcome Them?

gps2By Jamshed Jadoon

Car Tracking technology has evolved a lot in past few years where its technology is still being developed and enhanced. This technology utilizes all commercially researched and developed technologies merged together as a solution. For understanding, a tracker device and its management systems use:-

  • GSM/GPRS for communication
  • GPS Satellites to determine location
  • Microcontrollers to function as a brain for the device
  • State of art server machines with powerful database solutions
  • Raster/Vector maps for geographical view

Lately the effectiveness of tracking devices against theft has fallen significantly as thieves are now becoming more aware about the technology and they know that it can be abused. There are some weaknesses in the technology (and society), which if addressed can give an edge to effectively use tracker technologies to reduce theft losses.

Technological Problems:

1. Tracker Uses GSM Technology to communicate, which is a wireless media and by use of GSM jammers the communication between tracker device and control system (of tracking companies) can be broken. Therefore, if jammed by a signaling device, tracker will not be able to update location (of your vehicle) nor can receive any command from control center. These GSM jammers have become a large-scale tool for car lifters that are available easily in the market.

Read this case study to know how car lifters use jamming devices to disable car trackers.

2. A thief, before accessing the tracker, has to first break into the vehicle, open doors, use vehicle’s electrical systems to power up his jamming device. With our current tracker setups, the tracking device is installed as a standalone unit and is not integrated into vehicle control systems.

If, somehow, tracking device is integrated with control system then tracker would disable car engine or power system if car window or door is broken.

3. There has been lack of research and development as tracker companies focus on features to attract customers not on security which is still in its basics.

Social Problems

1. GSM jammers are banned in Pakistan and selling them (without NOC from PTA) is chargeable offense, yet many companies are selling these products and hence there is no control over its usage.

There are sorts of retail and online stores that are freely selling GSM jammers (you can Google around to find an online retailor). Authorities concerned (PTA in collaboration with Police) should take note of this to stop such free sale of GSM jammers.

2. Vehicle owners do want security but they do not recognize their responsibilities. At times there are various tracker features that are not used by vehicle owners. Just for the record, there are many options in the tracker system which if observed can alert the owner in time in case of a theft. But vehicle owners never follow these instructions.

Vehicle owners should acquire all necessary training from tracker companies in order to fully understand the functionality and procedures of trackers, to make sure that they are fully capitalizing all the features available with their car trackers.

3. Use of Jammer detection system can further enhance chances of recovery. As tracker devices can now recognize GSM jammer devices and take action like disable vehicle engine or sound alarm. Yet its effectiveness is again not possible due to massive use of jammer devices by security vehicles, banks, mosques etc.. Therefore, use of jammer detector features become a nuisance for the vehicle owner.

4. Lack of coordination between police and technology companies. Police does not recognize the system nor can implement any solution. Though tracker is a solution for 80% recoveries yet it is never appreciated (by Police) rather it is always taken as a target.

Police needs to recognize this technology and bring efforts to discuss their findings with tracking technology experts so that they can enhance tracker systems.

5. Vehicle manufacturers are least bothered about vehicle security. They need to implement systems into their vehicles to make them compatible with tracker devices which can then be used to integrate tracker units into the vehicle computer systems to act as an internal part and not as an add-on. Such as, by offering door detection system, vehicle immobilizers, a safe place for tracker which could be temper proof inside vehicle body to hold tracking device and so.

Writer is Vice President and Head of MIS in Askari Insurance and has been working with Askari leasing and Askari Bank.