Concerned About Smart Key Hacks Try Storing Them in the Fridge
【Summary】Cars with smart features, such as keyless-entry systems, are staggeringly prone to wireless hacks. In order to compromise a vehicle, thieves could theoretically initiate a relay attack by amplifying the car’s signal and tricking the car into unlocking its doors even though the actual key is far away.
By Michael Cheng
Cars with smart features, such as keyless-entry systems, are staggeringly prone to wireless hacks. In order to compromise a vehicle, thieves could theoretically initiate a relay attack by amplifying the car's signal and tricking the car into unlocking its doors even though the actual key is far away. This is just one of many ways to break into a smart car without physically entering the vehicle.
According to a report published by ETH Zurich, a technology focused educational institution, 10 car models from eight well-known automobile manufacturers are susceptible to this type of attack. The main issue with smart car hacks is their nascent nature. Simply put, there isn't enough data available to predict such occurrences.
"But we hear increasingly from law enforcement agencies that we work with that there are more and more cases like this," explained Carol Kaplan, director of public affairs at the National Crime Insurance Bureau. "One problem is that it's very hard to prove that a car has been broken into by using this method. There's no evidence left behind, no broken glass or scratches on your car. All you know is that you come back, and your stuff is gone."
Storing Smart Keys in the Fridge
Without effective solutions against crippling hacks, a thorough approach must be taken to avoid the possibility of smart car attacks. That's why the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation recommends storing smart key fobs in refrigerators. When stored inside the fridge, the signal between one's car and key cannot be intercepted. It is important to consider that exposing batteries and other parts of a smart key to low temperatures for long periods of time may damage the device. If you're planning to apply this anti-theft method, it might be worth scanning through the official manual to check the unit's operating temperature threshold.
"It sounds strange, but it makes sense," said Jari Tiiainen of the National Bureau of Investigation.
To date, there has not been any reports of car theft involving smart keys in Finland. However, in other parts of Europe (such as Sweden) and the United States, such cases are becoming increasingly common. Earlier this year, a group of security researchers uncovered a bug that compromised over 100 million Volkswagen smart keys. To exploit the flaw, a criminal could hack the signal coming from the key using radio equipment and emit a replicated signal to the target vehicle. Similar vulnerabilities have been around since 2011.
If you're concerned about damaging your car keys in the fridge, which you should be, there are other options available that are safer and doesn't involve cold temperature storage. You could utilize a Faraday bag to prevent signals from being intercepted out in the open. Such contraptions are mostly used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to secure data in portable devices. They are capable of blocking specific GPS bands, cellular networks, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Alternatively, you could wrap your keys in tin foil. This method originated from conspiracy theorists concerned about the government's mind-reading capabilities. Out of the two options, the Faraday bag is probably more reliable. These days, you could get one for around 10 bucks.
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
Waymo Receives Permit to Participate in California’s Autonomous Vehicle Pilot
How Do Autonomous Cars Deal with Double-parked Vehicles?
Kitty Hawk and Boeing Form Partnership to Make Flying Cars Safer
Waymo to Bring Driverless Cars to France and Japan via Nissan-Renault Partnership
Porsche Forecasts EVs Going Mainstream
Zomato Tests Drones for Food Deliveries in India
Alibaba Brings Tmall Genie to Audi, Honda and Renault Vehicles
Driverless Sensor Startup Sense Photonics Raises $26 Million in Series A Funding
- Ford Motor Co Poaches Former Tesla, Apple Car Exec to Lead its Connected Vehicle & Embedded Systems Development
- Tesla Discreetly Raises the Price of Its Entire Lineup
- Mercedes-Benz Parent Daimler Takes a 33% Stake in Automotive Cells Company (ACC), to Source Batteries for its European Market EVs
- Volkswagen’s ID.4 Pro SUV Awarded an EPA Estimated Range of 249 Miles, Edging Out the Ford Mustang Mach-E
- GM’s Battery Supplier LG Electronics to Pay $1.2 Billion to Help Cover the Costs of the Chevy Bolt EV Battery Recall
- Nissan is Investing $17.6 Billion Over Five Years to Electrify its Model Lineup, Will Introduce 23 New Electrified Models by 2030
- Ford Motor Co is Recalling the New Bronco Sport, Escape SUVs for Underperforming Brakes
- Aviva Technology Raises $26.5 Million in Series A Funding for its High Bandwidth, Ethernet-based Automotive Networking Solutions
- In a Boost to Electric Truck Maker Rivian, Illinois Governor Signs into Law the ‘Reimagining Electric Vehicles in Illinois Act’
- BMW's Electric i7, i5 M & i4 M to Get a 750 HP Tri-Motor Powertrain