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Research shocker! Keyless car entry systems can be hacked easily, elegantly

Vlad Savov
01.16.11
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We know you are vigilant enough not to trust your car's security to a wireless system, but plenty of other folks like the convenience of putting away the metallic keys and getting into their vehicles with a bit of Bond-like swagger. Professor Srdjan Capkun of ETH Zurich found himself perched on the fence between these two groups when he recently purchased a vehicle with a keyless entry system, so he did what any good researcher would: he tried to bypass its security measures. In total, he and his team tested 10 models from eight car makers and their results were pretty conclusive: each of the tested vehicles was broken into and driven away using a very simple and elegant method. Keyless entry systems typically work by sending a low-powered signal from the car to your key fob, with the two working only when they're near each other, but the wily Zurich profs were able to intercept and extend that signal via antennas acting as repeaters, resulting in your key activating your car even when it's nowhere near it. The signal-repeating antennae have to be pretty close to both the key and the car, but that's why heist movies stress the importance of teamwork. Hit the source link for all the chilling details.

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