Crooks Steal Key-Less Cars With New Relay Attack Technique

Discover how to prevent high-tech criminals easily, quickly and quietly stealing your key-less entry vehicle

How relay attack works

Callous criminals steal vehicles which have key-less entry start via a new, simple, relay attack technique, TRACKER confirmed. Consider how it works. The key-less system – a convenient feature for the owner - eliminates any requirement to manually unlock the doors via the key fob. Handy if it is buried within a shopping bag.

Instead, the car receives a signal from the fob when in close proximity and its doors unlock. The key-less system also encompasses an engine start/stop button. There is, therefore, no requirement to slide a key into an ignition slot which can be tricky in poor light. The button only operates if the fob is close.

Crooks exploit key-less entry without thought for the victim’s mental health, lifestyle and finances. All they require is low cost equipment that is easy to source for those that mix in bad circles.

Imagine a scenario. A car is on a driveway. It is locked. Its fob is in a house out of range. A thief stands close to the house – and closer to the fob - with a device that captures its signal. The signal is sent to a second device an accomplice holds near the car. 

This relay attack tricks the car into thinking its legitimate fob is within close proximity. Its door unlock. The criminal then starts the engine via the button and leaves. It is a low risk crime. There is no need to steal the fob from the house, no requirement to break a window on the vehicle and very little noise.

Crooks captured on film

On April 4th 2017 at 2:20am, closed circuit television recorded such a crime. Two men sprinted towards a house. The first stood by its front door. He waved a bag in the air that contained a device. He then successfully received a signal from the key fob within the property. An accomplice opened the car and both men fled the scene.

The anonymous victims slept through the crime, found the car missing the next day then released the footage as a warning to others. They said: “We are extremely concerned our car could be stolen in this way - we see this as a significant security breach.” 

How to stop relay attack

German research proved that cars from a wide range of manufacturers are vulnerable. Among others, the testers unlocked and started a large executive saloon plus several small, family class, hatchbacks. A defence is to store the key fob in a faraday pouch that blocks its signal, costs very little and is readily available.

So the solution of storing the key fob in a faraday pouch means you still have to take your keys out of the pouch before you can unlock and start your car. This negates the whole purpose of keyless entry. If I am removing the keys from the pouch, then it is no extra effort to press the small unlock button on the keyfob. The whole keyless entry design is flawed and it is just an additional security risk that has no real world benefit (other than another marketing gimmick of course).

Why don't manufacturers supply a (Faraday pouch) with a vehicle if the system "They" have designed, built and sold in its vehicles is not tamper proof to a reasonable standard. This I'm afraid appears to be yet another method to obtain our hard earned money. Which is to employ somebody to exploit a vehicles shortcomings or devise a shortcoming and then design a tool/gizmo to effect a resolution to said shortcoming. Advertise/promote said shortcoming in any media outlet we listen to, read or review to make us scared enough to get us to spend our hard earned cash trying to keep our prize possession safe. Purchasing said resolution item/part in turn lines their pockets and empties ours for an item we probably wouldn't need if some dodgy person(s) (probably named Faraday) hadn't invented it. It's never ending.

According to the example stated, the solution is to store the fob in a faraday pouch WHEN YOU ARE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE, e.g. at night. This in no way negates the purpose of keyless entry in ordinary daytime use.

Lol. Considering Michael Faraday (google him) died in 1867 and all of his work on electricity and electromagnetic fields was conducted (no pun intended) while he was alive and therefore before the invention of the car, I very much doubt that his work was intended to fleece you out of a few quid for a bag to keep your car keys in. Christ.

This was colloquially speaking Rob. Christ.