Various news organizations are reporting that thieves armed with hacking devices are breaking into, and even starting, cars without much effort.
One hacking device intercepts your key fob’s radio signal. A bad guy trails behind an un-suspecting motorist with one device and, within seconds, a second, nearby thief using a receiving device clones the signal of the car’s key fob. Situational awareness is your best defense. That is, be cognizant of who is around you when you enter or exit your vehicle. The thief must be in close proximity to you in order for him or her to clone your key fob’s signal.
Another hacking device intercepts the fob key’s radio signal when the car owner presses his or her open/close button. This device can be planted near the target vehicle “lying in wait”. If you press your lock or unlock button and it does not work on the first try but on the second try it works, there is a good chance that your car’s unique signal was hacked. The thief can return anytime to replay your intercepted code and open your vehicle (it works for garage doors too).
Finally, thieves can use a slim jim or similar device to get into your car and, then, attach a special locksmith’s tool that changes your key fob’s radio signal to one that they possess.
You can protect yourself in a few ways. Low tech devices like a steering wheel lock and diagnostic port lock are recommended Locking your door using the door’s lock button (rather than your key fob) prevents its signal from being intercepted. Also, parking in crowded areas discourages thieves.
Car manufacturers are working on thwarting these hacks but, for now, be alert.