Security Vulnerabilities In Car Remote Keyless System And How To Prevent Car Theft

You may not know this but cars with remote keyless entry systems and keyless ignition systems are probably the easiest cars to break into and steal. With the innovation of more efficient keyless unlocking and locking systems built into cars, it has become ever easier for car thieves with the aid of hacking tools to break into cars. We are going to look at the techniques modern car thieves use to break into keyless cars, start it and drive away. This will help use prevent ever being a victim of car theft.

Owners of cars using the keyless entry system are at risk of having their vehicles stolen in minutes by a frequency-hacking device that is easily available. This device can be obtained online or at electronic stores for about 14,000 Naira. This device can unlock a car and start its engine by hacking its radio frequency identification (RFID) information. RFID is a form of wireless communication that incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object or person.

A source said the device can open almost every car that has a keyless entry system. The thieves recruit hackers to install the required software on their laptops and teach them how to operate the device, said the source. There are three ways to steal the encryption code to unlock the cars, according to the source.

“The device is attached to a computer which has simple frequency-monitoring software that can be downloaded for free from the Internet. The software reads the frequency transmitted between the remote key and car system. “It can capture the frequency code used to lock the car. At the same time, it decrypts the rolling codes transmitted back by the car to the remote key to unlock the vehicle,” the source explained.

The second method is to “attack” the car’s system. The hacking device broadcasts a signal mimicking the remote, tricking the car into responding with a rolling code. The device captures the code and decrypts it to unlock the vehicle. The source said the process could just take a few minutes, depending on the hackers’ code database. “Thieves have also been known to steal the code from the remote key by broadcasting a radio signal to it. “This emulates the car communicating with the key, which will automatically send a response. “The car thieves will then capture and decrypt the frequency transmitted from the key and pair it with the car’s locking system to unlock the vehicle.” This method works for both keyless entry and keyless ignition because remote keyless ignition uses a push button to start the car, not a physical key.

The third method is the relay theft which from the name, car thieves uses relay to trick the car into thinking that the key is trying to communicate with it allowing the car thief to unlock the car. This CNN publication surveillance footage video below shows how this technique is used.

Till to date, car manufacturers have yet to exactly find a foolproof solution to beat these car thieves. In this case more traditional means of security reinforcement is needed. Car owners should take extra precautions like installing GPS tracking devices or use steering or gear locks to deter thieves, nothing beats a good physical lock, which makes it much harder for thieves.

Put your car in a garage— If you have one it’s a great way to put a physical barrier between criminals and your car. Use a car cover— another great physical barrier that will cause the process to take longer than just 60 seconds. It

Although not completely preventable these are effective ways to help minimize your chances of becoming a victim.



About Nonso Okafor

I've worked as a technical support representative in major auto centers in Nigeria for more than twenty years. I have dealt with a variety of problems in my capacity as a customer service representative and auto diagnostics expert. I'm committed to assisting people in properly maintaining their automobiles and in appreciating this magnificent innovation known as an automobile.

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