Is It Possible To Hack A Keyless Entry on Vehicles?
Posted on 3rd, Mar 2016
Keyless entry is a locking system that eliminates the need for a key and replaces it with a remote device that is constructed with a microchip that communicates with the vehicle’s onboard computer. The system is one that has been around for decades. And, one that is standard in newer modeled vehicles. The system is also one that is convenient for vehicle owners and designed for both security and convenience. While the system is advanced security for a vehicle, this does not mean that the vehicle is risk-free from theft. There are two types of keyless entry systems.
With a passive system, the vehicle is automatically armed when the ignition of the vehicle is turned off, and the key is removed, or the doors locked. There is no additional action that needs to be performed on the part of the vehicle owner to activate the system. Features vary, but may include flashing lights and audible alarms when a thief tries to unlock or start the vehicle.
With an active system, it is necessary for the driver to manually arm the system as it will not automatically set when the vehicle is locked. Features may very but can be like that of a passive system, and each performs similarly to one another once armed.
Passive Signal Amplification
When a vehicle is equipped with a passive keyless entry, the vehicle emits a low-frequency signal within a small radius of the vehicle. When the vehicle owner comes into range with their microchipped key, a signal is detected, and the microchip will then begin to communicate with the vehicle’s onboard computer via the commands performed by the owner. For instance, the car owner can command the key remote to unlock the doors, etc.
The system is one that is not 100 percent safe as thieves can use a device that amplifies the low-frequency signal, offering them the capability of connecting the vehicle and key further away. An example of this is a vehicle owner that has their keys on their kitchen counter, and the vehicle parked in front of their house. Typically, this would not create concern. With this device, the burglar could amplify the signal to make commands. To avoid this scenario, a proximity chip can be installed.
Brute Force Hacks
Code combinations come by the trillions, but only a few are valid at any given time. While computer networks could lock out an account, the vehicle’s onboard computer is designed to ignore these bad codes.
Brute force is simply a burglar taking advantage of the system by sending out millions of combinations within a matter of minutes, hoping the right one will hit the vehicle, and commands will be granted. To reduce the risk of this situation, upgrading to 128-bit encryption would deter brute force as it would slow the attack down by requiring more combinations.
Thieves, with their bag of gadgets and tricks, are also known to be quite clever when it comes to the use of a frequency jammer. While the device is one that is illegal, it is one that can block any transmission within a certain frequency range. For instance, a driver comes home from work, parks in the driveway and thinks he’s locked the vehicle. But, a thief is a few feet away with their device fired up, and what happens is that the vehicle ignores the commands without the driver awareness.
Hacking a Keyless Entry System Is Possible
While a keyless entry system is one that is an upgrade to the standard lock and key, it is one that can be hacked. However, it takes specialised equipment and knowledge. There are ways to deter thief like those mentioned above. Also, automakers work hard to combat each weak spot that is discovered so that the system is one that remains the advanced locking system.
Be aware that most burglaries occur at night. Parking your vehicle in the garage or secured area, or in a lighted area if left outside will help to deter a thief from targeting your vehicle.
Many vehicle owners will be offered a discount from their insurance provider for having their vehicle equipped with an anti-theft system. While insurance providers’ policies will vary, typically the system must be no less than a passive keyless entry to qualify for the discount. You’ll find that many of the companies categorise anti-theft systems according to their specific features with both active and passive systems in mind. For the vehicle owner, it is both a break in an upgrade for protecting their vehicle and a discount on their insurance.