How to avoid keyless car being hacked using technology
Thanks to technology, car thefts fall from year to year. But they never get to zero: let’s see how the hi-tech can help us sleep peacefully without taking into account a crazy spending.
According to the latest data released by the State Police, car thefts are falling in USA. Despite an excellent 8.5% in 2017 compared to the previous year, 11 cars per second disappear in USA: mainly cars, but also sedans and supercars that end up in foreign markets or in the components market.
How to avoid keyless car being hacked using technology – Index
- The car thief: more locksmith or hi-tech expert?
- How to defend yourself using technology
- Good, healthy and old tips
Curiously many people are unaware of this risk: they fear to find the windshield destroyed, they are afraid that someone forces the trunk in search of a rare jewel, but they are convinced that modern technologies are an absolute certainty against theft.
In reality, these help, but the data show that we are far from having found the definitive technology that allows us to park the car in the street in the dark and sleep peacefully.
However, the technology helps: together with the general reduction of thefts, in 2017 49 thousand cars were found by law enforcement agencies, an increase of 52% compared to 2016. Devices such as GPS trackers, the evolution of satellite anti-theft devices and black boxes so much favored by insurance companies, they have had a considerable weight.
The car thief: more locksmith or hi-tech expert?
Wanting to write an article (minimally) useful, the first question to answer is: today how are cars stolen? As per best tradition, the answer is: it depends. Depends on the car, the anti-theft systems installed at the origin and those inserted later: we say that the traditional image of the thief that forces the door and then connects the wires to start the engine has gone out of fashion, at least because the immobilizer present in the vast majority of recent vehicles prevents starting with a different key than the legitimate holder, even if mechanically identical. The system, ingenious, provides for the passage of an electronic code from the key to the ignition lock: if the code is recognized by the control unit the machine starts, otherwise not.
Evidently there are ways to bypass this block, otherwise thefts would be tending to zero: just a quick search on the Internet to discover the existence of barbaric methods such as pushing the car over a certain speed to turn off the immobilizer or take it away with a wagon tools, but also more refined solutions such as the replacement of the control unit or the cancellation of the immobilizer code through the on-board system present in all cars. These are not things for everyone, but those who wake up in the morning and no longer find their car can testify: these are things that happen.
Then there is all the talk of the infamous jammer, the device that disturbs radio and GPS frequencies. The Italian law forbids the sale to the public by establishing that only the Police can dispose of and use such a device legally: however, we imagine – without having made any proof of it – that it is not impossible to obtain one, perhaps abroad.
By its very nature, the jammer lends itself to various criminal purposes but in particular to two: it prevents the machine is traceable via GPS and that it is closed at a distance. This last case, in particular, is rather disturbing and leads us to a question: which of you, when it comes out of the car, presses the door lock button and beware of the confirmation sound?
We always do everything in a hurry, we are caught in a thousand commitments … there is that once you press the button one goes away without paying attention. But it is a gross mistake: a thief with a jammer could prevent the doors from closing and the alarm system activated, finding itself inside the car in a moment.
So we come to the first two tips that have little to do with technology: always check the closing of the doors and the insertion of the alarm. If you also want the grandma’s classic remedy, try not to always park in the same place, perhaps in front of the house, because the hypothesis of meeting a “passing” thief is at least improbable.
Then we have to talk about keyless cars, those in which the car access and start system does not require the use of a mechanical key or a push-button remote control. Between news and various inquiries, here the situation is a bit ‘more confusing: the keyless system allows you to disable the alarm, open the door and even start the engine without entering any key or remote control; just bring the device closer to the car and the magic is accomplished.
As per video published below (which has been around the world), the system would not be without flaws: to open the door and start the engine would be enough to approach the keyless device with a transmitter to send the signal to another device placed less one meter from the car. To perform the theft you must therefore be in two: one next to the car, the other to the keyless device, which is usually found in the pockets of the owner of the vehicle. On the web there are videos for all tastes: who stops and asks the owner for information while walking in the parking lot, who even puts the transmitter on the balcony of the house in the hope that the original key is nearby: the imagination here is the only limit . Vehicle manufacturers have responded in a somewhat disorganized way: some have not yet expressed themselves, those who have implemented double-locking systems, those who have made silent updates and who – like Tesla – can disable the opening passive of the doors and the start of the engine through a simple check in the management software.
How to defend yourself using technology
If the skill and imagination of thieves improves day by day, even the arsenal of defense has become increasingly solid. The cars are sold with the immobilizer and often with the classic anti-theft volumetric, but some models can boast even the satellite with integrated GPS, control app and contact 24 hours a central operating in case of suspicious movements of the car. It should be noted that there are also satellite anti-theft devices with anti-jammer functionality: if the purpose of the jammer is to prevent any kind of communication from the alarm, the anti-jammer detects the presence of a source of disturbance, activates the alarm and prevents it from starting the engine. The aim is to escape the thief who, in this way, brings with it the “interference” and allows the burglar alarm to communicate again with the owner and the power plant.
But if the car has a few years on its shoulders and no GPS system, is it possible to ‘upgrade’ it in do-it-yourself mode? Yes, of course. The market is literally flooded with GPS tracking solutions (just use this search key on Amazon to uncover the vessel) designed for installation in the car: the most common are stand alone solutions in all respects, small devices to hide by car (many are magnetic) that contain a GPS and a data module to communicate with the network.
Some connect directly to the car and have engine blocking capabilities, others have powerful batteries (even 5,000 mAh and more) on board that allow continuous use even for a month, others still have the anti-jammer incorporated for maximum security. Their use is very simple: you hide them somewhere in the car (in the baggage box, in a drawer, under a seat …), you buy a SIM with an ad hoc contract like “Sim card” home connect and it’s done.
This tariff profile is designed for home automation objects but is also very good for GPS trackers: for a fixed annual fee it offers a quantity of SMS, minutes and traffic (usually on 2G network) more than adequate for the purpose.
After a brief configuration it is possible to dialogue at any time with your tracker: usually an application takes into account the last position and the movements of the vehicle, but it is always possible to request the instant position via SMS. In some cases it is also possible to call your tracker, which is also of dubious value even in the case of car theft. The advantages of these solutions are many: the cost is very low (starting from just over € 30), the ease of installation and also the reliability that is not bad.
Another solution that has already been mentioned is the satellite alarm, to be purchased together with the car or at a later time, or the classic black box much appreciated by insurance companies. This is a sort of “evolution” of the concept of tracker above: an electronic device equipped with GPS that records various parameters of use of the car as position, acceleration, speed and vehicle path in such a way as to perfectly reconstruct the dynamics of a possible sinister. The black box, so called because it can withstand major impacts, was not born to handle the theft attempts but, as it is equipped with GPS and access to the network, it can be very useful even in these cases; the same insurance companies provide, in addition to an emergency call service in case of an accident, also a 24-hour operations center that intervenes in case of theft. The only perplexity is that these are usually not combined with an operations center that takes charge of the eventual recovery of the vehicle, but only serve to inform the owner where his car is located, triggering various alarms and if any exit from the perimeter (geo-fence) set: in the unfortunate case, it is up to the user to activate himself to track the vehicle by immediately contacting the Police. Almost superfluous to add that, for those who often and willingly forget where he parked the car, trackers are a godsend.
Good, healthy and old tips
What about an old and dear bloster, maybe those “with balls” as a television spot a few years ago? Notwithstanding that technology is a fundamental aid for the prevention (and care, as far as possible) of car theft, if you can not close a mechanical old-school defense eye certainly does not hurt. It all depends on how the thieves intend to carry on the work: if they think of getting into cars, getting them to leave and leaving, a mechanical defense is an excellent bollard; if they have an intention to charge it and take it away, the technology can be much more effective than a bloster.
In all this, there are still some valid recommendations, evergreen able to prevent many headaches: often change place where you park, if you keep the car at night in the street, park it in light places, possibly near houses and inhabited areas and not left inside valuables, especially in plain sight. This, combined with physical and technological deterrents, reduces (but unfortunately does not eliminate) the risk of bad surprises, with important benefits on the quality of sleep. Good night.
How to avoid keyless car being hacked using technolo