A $22 Radio device to crack car’s security system

Cracking the wireless security systems of cars has been done in the past several times, but now researchers of Qihoo 360 showed that it’s a piece of cake if you have the right device. For better or worse, researchers of a Beijing-based security firm- Qihoo 360 built a gadget which can bypass the security systems of cars, essentially leaving the car at the mercy of the crooks!

The $22 device:

A few antennas, transmitters and batteries and of course the brilliant minds of security researchers of Qihoo 360 is the recipe of the radio device. Simple, cheap but highly effective!

Yes, several devices have been made in the past just like this one but none of them was so cheap. NONE of Them! Also, this device can be said to be an “Upgraded” version of any previous devices of such kind because these devices can transmit the signals from over 1000 feet! This goes to show that as tech companies are constantly trying to make new products, hackers are keeping up with them in finding vulnerabilities on those devices!

The device used by hackers.

An NXP official told Wired that “The industry is aware that the complexity and cost associated with mounting a relay attack has dropped over recent years.”

Team Work Required!

It looks like the security researchers of Qihoo 360 were a fan of teamwork, and the device they made also requires teamwork.

Jun Li- one of the security researchers of Qihoo 360 said, “The attack uses the two devices to extend the effective range of the key fob. You’re working in your office or shopping in the supermarket, and your car is parked outside. Someone slips near you and then someone else can open up and drive your car. It’s simple.”

The attacking mechanism

What this device does is, it tricks the car’s system into believing that the fob is nearby. The crooks can simply copy the fob signal of the owner’s key through one device, and then use the other one to transmit the exact same signal to keyless entry system of the targeted car.

The Experiment

Researchers of Qihoo 360, hacked into two vehicles- a Qing Hybrid and Chevrolet Captiva SUV with ease but they pointed out that the several other cars using the NXP entry system could also be compromised.

In response, an NXP official said: “Carmakers and car access system integrators are introducing solutions that counter these attacks.”

A simple solution

Security researchers not only pointed out the flaws in the entry systems of cars, they also shared a simple method to stay safe from such kind of attacks. However, this is not the first time when a group of Chinese hackers has demonstrated how hacking and controlling a car can be a piece of cake. Just a few months ago China-based Keen Security Lab researchers demonstrated how they could control Tesla’s brakes from 12 miles away.

Here’s how a $22 device could let hackers steal your car



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Jahanzaib Hassan