Gone are the days when thieves had to hotwire a car to steal it – now, it can be done in just a few seconds using cheap homemade devices.
Chinese researchers have demonstrated an attack on keyless entry systems, in which criminals were able to capture the key fob’s radio signal and transmit it to their accomplice waiting at the victim’s vehicle.
Called the ‘relay hack’, one person follows behind the driver while holding an $11 DIY radio and their partner stands next to car with a similar transceiver– once the signal has been transferred, the thief can unlock the door, start the engine and drive off.
Hacking keyless entry systems is not a new technique, as a report published last year had revealed a majority of the 100 million vehicles sold after 1995 are vulnerable to key-clone attacks, allowing hackers to infiltrate keyless entry and ignition systems.
These attacks are carried out using battery-powered radios, similar to those used in the relay hack, which intercept signals from the car owner’s key fob and are then used to reproduce the key.