Why Are Vehicles With Keyless Entry Easier To Steal?

car theft

Keyless entry systems are a great innovation. Yet, they’re not perfect. The technology in keyless entry systems actually makes it easier than ever to steal a car.

Back in the old days, you needed to either obtain a key or be able to access a vehicle and hotwire it if you wanted to steal a car. Today, the art of stealing a car has become easier and more sophisticated. Car thieves have figured out how to hack into keyless entry systems. In fact, 92% of the vehicles UK car security company Tracker recovered in 2019 were stolen without using the owner’s keys.

This new method of stealing a car is called a relay attack.

About Relay Attacks

Image Credit: Philip Ide

Keyless entry systems are vulnerable to relay attacks. A relay attack is the use of technology to manipulate the vehicle’s key fob into unlocking and starting the vehicle. Here’s how it works:

  1. Two thieves approach a vehicle with hacking devices.
  2. Thief #1 stands next to the vehicle with a hacking device.
  3. Thief #2 stands up to 50 feet within the vehicle’s key fob with a hacking device.
    • It’s common for thieves to stand outside of a house or another building where the key fob is located. Hacking devices can work within 30-50 feet of a key fob. Some of the more sophisticated hacking devices can work within 300 feet of a key fob.
  4. Thief #1’s hacking device receives signals from the vehicle. Next, it relays the signals to thief #2’s hacking device.
  5. Thief #2’s hacking device sends the vehicle’s signals to the key fob.
  6. The key fob is tricked into thinking that the vehicle is nearby. The key fob sends out signals that allow entry into the vehicle.
  7. Thief #2’s device receives the key fob’s signals and then sends them to thief #1’s device.
  8. Thief #1’s device unlocks the vehicle and allows the thieves to start the ignition.
  9. The thieves get into the vehicle and drive away.

The whole process takes only a couple of minutes. Know what’s scary? These hacking devices are ridiculously easy to find. You can find them on Amazon and eBay for about $100.

Ways To Avoid Relay Attacks

The good news is there are several ways to protect your car from relay attacks:

1. Block Your Key Fob’s Signals

There are devices you can place your key fob in to block its signals. For example, you can get a Faraday-style wallet or pouch. Michael Faraday was a British scientist who discovered that certain materials block the transmission of radio waves. These things also come in quite useful for protecting anything that contain RFID chips (such as credit cards).

Another option is a Faraday box. Faraday boxes, wallets or pouches are reasonably priced, and you’ll find several hundred of them available on Amazon. If you can remember to put your keys in the Faraday device, they are a great option. While this is a good solution, it’s not foolproof. It’s easy to forget to place your key fob in something that will block its signals. Thieves only need a couple of minutes to access your key fob with their hacking devices.

2. Add Physical Barriers To Your Vehicle To Prevent Theft

If thieves can access your vehicle, they can’t steal it if there are physical barriers in place. The most common physical barriers are:

  • Crook lock
  • Wheel clamp
  • Ghost immobilizer

These things can be quite an inconvenience, though. You’d have to unlock these devices every time you want to drive your car. That can be quite a pain if you’re in a hurry.

3. Install SEER On Your Vehicle

Seer features

This is the most foolproof solution. SEER is an advanced keyless entry system with many different security benefits. If you add SEER to your vehicle with keyless entry, you can program it to override the factory keyless signal. This is a great solution because SEER is immune to relay attacks.

SEER has advanced encryption technology that creates an extra layer of security. That technology is nearly impossible to hack into. So if thieves make a successful relay attack on your vehicle, SEER will override it and keep your doors locked. The only way you can access a vehicle with SEER is if you have a SEER tag with you.

SEER has many other benefits. For instance:

  • SEER can automatically lock and unlock doors just like a smart key, but with more range (and better security).
  • SEER can turn interior and exterior lighting on and off based on proximity.
  • SEER can activate running boards based on proximity.
  • SEER can open liftgates based on proximity.
  • You can program SEER to do custom stuff. Whatever you can imagine, SEER can probably pull it off.

Learn more about SEER today!

Categories: Car Accessories