Thieves Cloning Auto Door Lock Codes, Breaking Into Cars-Truth!
Thieves Cloning Car Remote Codes, Breaking Into Cars-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:Thieves are using wireless devices to clone auto door lock codes transmitted by wireless key fobs, allowing them to break into cars.
The Truth:Rumors about thieves cloning auto door locks have been circulating for a long time. In fact, we investigated the rumor back in 2008 and found that it was "fiction" — but, by January 2018, we found credible reports of this potentially happening. We first investigated the rumor in 2008 when warnings to "lock your doors manually" circulated in a viral email. The email's author explained that his son had his phone and other personal belongs stolen from his locked car. Because there was no sign of forced entry, it was assumed that the thief cloned his auto door lock frequency. At the time, we couldn't find any credible reports or evidence to back up the claim. By 2011, researchers published a paper on vulnerabilities in keyless entry and ignition systems that could be used to open and drive cars from 10 different manufacturers. The technique is called "relay attacks on passive keyless entries." It didn't get much attention at the time, but by early 2018 reports of thieves cloning car frequencies had become fairly common.
Evidence of Thieves Cloning Remote Door Lock CodesMost auto burglaries involved unlocked cars or smashed windows. But one burglary from Davies, a neighborhood in Florida, from December 2017 drew suspicion from local police. The owner of an Audi had a handgun stolen from his locked car, and there was no sign of forced entry. The owner also found a key fob that didn't belong to him in a cup holder, and his key fob no longer worked, the Sun-Sentinel reports:
It wasn’t clear from the incident report if the car was locked, but (Davies police) said it’s possible somebody cloned a key fob to make a counterfeit duplicate and “somehow bypass the factory settings” to create a new, keyless entry device. The Audi owner told investigators that his own key fob was no longer working.
A release from the West Midlands Police Department explains how the theft works in a press release:
The video shows two men pulling up outside the victim’s house, both carrying relay boxes. The devices are capable of receiving signals through walls, doors and windows, but not metal. In the footage, one of the men can be seen waving a relay box in front of the property. The box receives a signal from the key inside and transmits it to the second box next to the car. The car’s systems are then tricked into thinking that the key is present and so it is unlocked. The thieves then drive off, with the whole crime taking just one minute.
So, it's clear that thefts involving cloning remote frequencies are occurring. And the National Insurance Crime Bureau has said that the crime is so new, there isn't reliable data on how frequently it's happening.
How to Protect Your Car From Remote Cloning Thefts
Vulnerabilities in keyless entry systems have caused quite a bit of panic. And Edmunds has provided a few tips that could help prevent it.
First, storing the car key in a wallet or purse that specially designed to block cloning with RFID chips is one solution. And a second, more unconventional solution, is to store the key in a refrigerator, which would also block signals.
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police recommend a Thatcham-approved steering lock to cover the entire steering wheel to prevent vehicle thefts. Also, a Thatcham-approved tracker could help locate cars if their stolen.