Further, the German automobile club ADAC recently announced results from a study testing a hack that extended the range of wireless key fobs. This means a key fob that would typically only communicate with its car from just a few feet away could, when hacked, activate the unlocking system or ignition from inside the house, allowing a perpetrator to open the vehicle and even drive away before the owner makes it outside.
As Wired explained, the researchers pulled off the feat with a pair of radio devices (one held a few feet from the car and the other near the key fob) made with a few cheap chips, batteries, a radio transmitter and an antenna. Despite such lo-fi technology, the study found 24 different cars from 19 manufacturers to be at risk.
- One AAA spokesperson told USA Today that since heavy metal cages around a key fob can block an amplifier, you could keep your keys in the microwave, refrigerator or freezer (check with your car dealer to be sure this won’t damage the batteries first), or simply wrap them in aluminum foil while at home. Some companies, such as FobGuard, sell protective Faraday fob shields.
- Among other precautions, Driving.ca, the Canadian automotive website, recommends locking your car with the central door lock button rather than a wireless key fob, using an old-fashioned steering wheel lock, and even considering the purchase of a car from Tesla or General Motors, which hire “white hat” (ethical) hackers to look for bugs.
- And get to know your car’s OBD, or on-board diagnostic system, the port that gives owners and repair technicians access to the various computer systems that operate in your vehicle.
- Don’t let insurance programs or anyone else plug a “dongle” into the OBD port, which could open it up to hackers.
- And consider an OBD lock, which offers extra protection for your car’s precious data.
These few simple steps can put drivers back on the road to peace of mind.