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High-end cars vulnerable to hacking through wireless transmitters

Several High-end cars that use no key system to unlock were found to be extremely vulnerable to hacking using simple wireless transmitters.  German General Automobile Club (ADAC) tested the vulnerability on 237 models key-less entry models, finding that 230 of them could be easily hacked within a few minutes making almost 99% of the key-less modern cars susceptible to the theft.

The technology is known as “ Relay Attack “ that is helping hackers to unlock the keyless car locking systems. In this attack wireless devices are used to bounce the signals from the key further from than they would normally reach.  When the car picks up the wireless signal transmitted by the wireless transmitter or the relay, it is then possible to unlock the car and drive it away. So the owner of such cars is advised to keep their keys out of sight and reach of thieves or keep them in the metal boxes so that signals can’t escape. Another advice is to use a steering wheel lock system.

Several models from major manufacturers have been found to be affected that includes
Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Jaguar, Land Rover, Fiat, Mercedez, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Skoda, Renault, Nissan, Suzuki, Opel, Mitsubishi and many more. The only cars that were not affected by the attack were newest models of the Land Rover Discovery, Land Rover Range Rover and the Jaguar i-Pace. These cars use keyless fobs with ultra-wide-band technology which is more complicated in determining the distance of the fob from the vehicle, meaning the car's unlocking system can't be easily fooled.

Volkswagen group that owns Audi, Skoda and VW said that they take car security seriously and are trying ways to improve the locking system. Other car manufacturers including Hyundai,  Ford, Nissan, Kia, Volvo, and PSA group which includes Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall too said they are working to make car security better.

Hyundai declined to comment on the attack and several others pointed that the cars being stolen through Relay Attacks are low; while Mercedes and BMW said that they had introduced motion sensors for their security in which if the fob is not moving while trying to open the car, the car will not be unlocked.

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