Protecting Yourself Against Keyless Entry Hacking

Posted on: 21 September 2016

Cars have gotten more complex and sophisticated throughout the years. Unfortunately, car thieves are becoming just as sophisticated and technologically savvy. Criminals are now using the same technology a growing number of car owners rely on for convenience to break into and even steal vehicles. If your vehicle is equipped with a keyless entry system, then you'll want to know how you can protect yourself against this threat.

Understanding the Tools of the Trade

The vast majority of today's sophisticated car thieves rely on passive signal amplification in order to gain access to most vehicles with keyless entry. Using this tactic, thieves can amplify the signal given off by most vehicles equipped with keyless entry technology. This expands the range needed for your vehicle to detect your key fob, unlocking your vehicle without you realizing it.

Car thieves are also using frequency jammers in a high-tech bid to steal vehicles. These jammers block the low-frequency signals used by key fobs, preventing unwary drivers from locking their vehicles with the key fob as they exit the vehicle. As a result, the affected vehicle remains unlocked and vulnerable to theft.

Some thieves are even using brute force techniques to find valid vehicle code combinations for unlocking and even starting vehicles. In many cases, it could take sifting through thousands or even millions of unique code combinations before they hit the jackpot, but it only takes one successful combination for a car thief to leap into action.

What Car Manufacturers Are Doing Against It

The battle against keyless entry hacking hasn't been an easy one for auto manufacturers. Currently, the vast majority of keyless entry technology relies on low frequency transmitters and RF channels. These technologies have proven relatively easy for thieves to exploit, allowing them to gain access to your vehicle and any valuables inside.

New technologies, including ultra-wideband (UWB) radio, aim to make it harder for thieves to exploit the vulnerabilities of old. Whereas earlier technologies relied on mere proximity to the vehicle, UWB radio is capable of accurately measuring and verifying the distance between the key fob and the vehicle. Improved cryptology may also be able to help curtail automobile thefts linked to keyless entry exploits.

Protective Measures You Can Take

The problem of keyless entry hacking seems a bit daunting, but there's plenty you can do to help reduce your chances of becoming a target:

  • Stick your key fob in the microwave or freezer - Think of your microwave or freezer as a rough Faraday cage of sorts -- the shape and metal content of these appliances helps block most amplifier signals that thieves use. The only downsides are a frozen key fob and/or a fried fob if you turn the microwave on with the device inside.
  • Wrap your key fob in aluminum foil - Another, less drastic measure involves wrapping your key fob in aluminum foil. The foil ensures that no keyless entry signals pass through, preventing thieves with signal amplifiers from getting into your vehicle. If you don't like the look and feel of foil, you can always opt for a protective sleeve or pouch that does the same thing.
  • Keep your vehicle garaged - Sheltering your vehicle in a garage not only protects it against the elements, but it can also shield it from would-be thieves.
  • Make sure your parking areas are brightly lit - If you can't keep your vehicle in the garage, then you should at least keep your vehicle in a well-lit parking area. It may also help to have a security camera watch over the area.

As manufacturers come up with more protective measures against keyless entry hacking, you can expect future vehicles to become safer and more secure against would-be thieves. For more information, contact a company like The Lock Shop.