Your car is always listening. Not for your voice, like the Amazon Echo or Siri, but for an electronic signal, such as the coded “unlock” signal from your electronic key fob. If it’s a newer car model, you might not have to press any buttons; just approach your car and the doors will unlock automatically. In some cars, the engine will even turn on.
Wirelessly unlocking your car is convenient, but it comes at a price. Criminals can easily intercept the key fob’s signal and open your car without setting off any alarms. If you have a true keyless car model, they might be able to just drive away. Let’s look at how criminals pull this off and what you can do to keep your car safe.
As you’ve probably noticed, you can’t just open your car with any old radio signal. You need your specific key fob to do the job, and there’s a reason.
A key fob uses a computer chip to create a unique code that it sends to your car’s security system. The car also has a chip that uses the same algorithm to generate codes. If the codes match up, the car opens. There’s a bit more to it, but those are the basics.
Since each key fob/car security pair is unique, and each one can create billions of codes, hackers shouldn’t stand a chance. But it turns out that a popular system from Megamos Crypto isn’t as secure everyone thought.