Technology within the automotive industry has come a long way, it wasn’t so long ago that seatbelts in the rear seats were a luxury! But it seems that nowadays every make and model of vehicle benefits from an array of useful gadgets to make our daily commutes and even the dreaded school run almost pleasurable. For example, heated seats, quick clear windscreens, Bluetooth connectivity, cup holders galore and even keyless entry and keyless start.
We have all been there, holding the baby or a bag of shopping whilst struggling to get the keys out your pocket to unlock the car. Keyless entry means that by simply approaching the vehicle the doors will unlock, in some cases the engine can even be started remotely. Whilst this clearly has its benefits in our day to day lives, this convenience can come at a cost; the signal from a keyless fob can easily be intercepted by savvy criminals with the right equipment.
Each key fob is specifically programmed to the vehicle in order to open the car. Without getting too technical, a car key remote uses a chip that creates a unique code, your car has the same sort of chip that also generates a code, when the codes match then the car opens.
The recent advancements in “always on” key fobs facilitating keyless entry, opens up a whole new vulnerability in vehicle security. The way keyless entry works is that as long as your car keys are within range, anyone can walk up to your car and open the door, that’s why newer vehicles won’t communicate with the fob until you are about a foot away. Criminals are now able to get hold of a signal amplifier that can pick up signals generated by car keys from up to 300 feet away and then transmit them to your car. Basically, this means that even if your keys are safe or securely locked in your house, these criminals can still walk straight up to your car, open it, and simply drive away.
A quick search on you tube and you can see how common this type of theft is.
This type of signal amplifying isn’t unique to car keys, anything with an RFID chip can be manipulated in the same way, bank cards, oyster cards etc.
One quick and relatively cost-effective solution is to invest in an RFID blocking pouch or wallet.
Simply place your key fob into the convenient pouch and the signal is blocked, you can test this by pressing the buttons through the pouch and the car will not unlock. An example of these pouches can be found here. This a very simple and cost-effective solution to a problem which is fast becoming more and more common place.