According to a report published in Bloomberg, hackers are able to target vulnerabilities in electronic locks and immobilisers, accounting for about 42 percent of stolen vehicles in London. High priced vehicles are targeted more often and are at a risk of easy hacking, some even under 60 seconds. Turns out the hack is not just for a single car manufacturer, but for any keyless car employing electronic locks. Theft just moved from jacking to hacking.
Researchers looking into the field have found vulnerabilities in keyless car used by several vehicle manufacturers. Originally identified for the RFID transponders chip, the findings are making rounds for raising the issue of security in vehicles. After all, not everyone’s a millionaire (and the insurance sucks).
Oh! It’s a cold cruel world…
Back in 2012 when the researchers first found a hack into the system. They took it to the manufacturer of the affected chip. And later on to Volkswagen in 2013, who filed a lawsuit to block the publication of the paper. Turns out, filing a lawsuit is easier than solving a mistake that they made in the first place. The paper was finally out in 2015 but with an omission of the exact components of the chip.
Looking at the thieving tech
The use of technology and wireless in automobiles has been fascinating to say the least. The ease of operation with keyless car, brings along with it several issues to be considered. The top most would be hacking into the system and making away with the vehicle. Knowledge is after all a double edged sword.
The Bloomberg report listed out some of the vulnerabilities in keyless car. The top problem being the transponder used in the vehicles lacked a pseudo random number generator. The transponder provides repetitive data every time a wireless communication takes place between the lock and key.
Excerpts from the report
Some build the lock others broke them. The level of sophistication of technology used in hacking into a keyless car has increased significantly. With the use of computers and brute force attacks to cycle through millions of combinations, this is now an automated process. Some speculate the device to be a transmitter operating in the 300-400 Mhz range. The beauty of the system is that all this can be done in under a minute. When David Beckham’s BMW X5 is not safe, where does the others stand?