When it comes to keeping your automobile safe, it’s important to be aware of continually evolving threats and possibilities. New technology pops up all the time, and it can either help or hurt you! In the news recently, there have been reports of a new type of car theft that car owners in Boston should be aware of, since it renders remote keyless systems vulnerable. Your automotive locksmith is an expert when it comes to neutralizing these types of threats and they can be a great resource as you work to ensure the best possible security for your car.
The car security problem:
Cars are getting broken into without any sign of forced entry, but the only cars being targeted are those that rely on a remote keyless entry system. These are cars that have a ‘handless’ feature. When they’re functioning correctly, the computer in the car automatically opens the car doors when it detects a nearby key fob, without the driver having to press an unlock button to get in. However, new hacking gadgets are now compromising these systems. These gadgets are out on the market and easily accessible to anyone, including street criminals.
Remote keyless entry usually works when the key fob is within a short distance of the car, no more than a yard or so away. However, with a device called a “power amplifier,” the signal from the key fob is amplified so that it can be read up to 100 yards away, the distance of a football field! That means your car may be opened using this device while you’re at home, parked on the street or at work with your car nearby. At that distance, the security of your car is greatly compromised and it can leave you open to all sorts of problems. Unfortunately, the hacking device itself is simple and cheap – available for $17 on sites like Amazon – so it’s accessible to petty criminals and career thieves as well.
How should you respond:
There have been several methods proposed to keep your car safe, some that are more effective than others. Since it’s a question of the remote signal that is being intercepted, you can actually wrap your key in aluminum foil to block the signal. This will prevent any “power amplifiers” from reading your key. Sure, it’s a Back to the Future kind of trick, but it is a cheap and effective solution. However, if that’s too tacky for your style, there are also “Faraday bags” that you can buy on Amazon for $7.95 that will secure your key signal as well.
We would like to give a word of warning against some of the suggested solutions, such as putting your keys in the freezer or the microwave. While these will block your key signal, they may also damage your keys adversely. In the freezer, the low temperature can create condensation. The microwave, on the other hand, poses a real safety hazard. Plus, both of these methods are not mobile and will only work while you’re at home, leaving your car vulnerable while you do errands or are at work.
If you can disable the feature, depending on the make and model of your car, that is another effective course of action to ensure that car’s security is not compromised. While handless entry is a nifty feature, it’s not worth getting your car broken into or stolen!
Convenience versus security...a locksmith's prespective
By reinstating the push of a button, car manufactures could greatly increase the security of these cars, but it would be seen as an inconvenience since it would effectively cancel out the hands-free feature these remote keys offer. Until the car technology advances, however, your local locksmith will always err on the side of security and you should too!