Nowadays there are many sophisticated ways to steal a car. Thieves use a variety of techniques to gain access to cars and start the engine. These techniques evolve and adapt quickly to modern cars.
As anti-theft systems become more advanced, so do the thieves. Below we are providing some common methods used to steal a car. Actually we can say the cars which that have keyless start buttons and entry systems. Also, there are ways for you to prevent car theft, fortunately. So don’t worry.
Ways to steal a keyless car
Wirelessly unlocking your car is convenient, but it comes at a price. The increasing number of keyless cars on the road has led to a new kind of crime which is called key fob hacks. With the aid of new cheap electronic accessories and techniques, a key fob’s signal is now relatively easy for criminals to intercept or block. Imagine a thief opening your car and driving away with it without setting off any alarms! Disaster, yes?
1. Relay Hack
Key fobs present a serious weakness in your car’s security. As long as your keys are in range, anyone can open the car and the system will think it’s you. In other words, your keys could be in your house, and criminals could walk up to your car and open it. That’s why newer car models won’t unlock until the key fob is within a foot.
However, criminals can get relatively cheap relay boxes that capture key fob signals up to 300 feet away. Then they can transmit them to your car.
Here is how it works. For example, one thief stands near your car with a relay box while the other thief scans your house with another one. When your key fob signal is picked up, it is transmitted to the box that’s closer to your car, prompting it to open. It’s actually happening and isn’t just a theory.
Here are the top cars that are vulnerable to key fob relay attacks according to the German Automotive Club:
Audi: A3, A4, A6
Citroen: DS4 CrossBack
Ford: Galaxy, Eco-Sport
Hyundai: Santa Fe CRDi
Lexus: RX 450h
Nissan: Qashqai, Leaf
Range Rover: Evoque
Ssangyong: Tivoli XDi
Volkswagen: Golf GTD, Touran 5T
2. Signal Jamming
This is another way that thieves can steal a car. Here, criminals will block your signal. So When owners press the lock button on their key fob, the command is prevented from reaching their vehicle and it remains unlocked. Thieves are left with an open door. Therefore, they have free access to your car and can steal it easily.
How to prevent it from happening to you? You need to always manually check your car doors before stepping away. You can also install a steering wheel lock to prevent car thieves from stealing your car even if they do get inside.
3. Key Programming (Onboard Diagnostics Hack)
Those vehicles with a start button rather than an ignition key can be simple to steal once they’re inside the car. It is whether thieves break a window or use the jamming technique above.
Did you know that virtually every car has an onboard diagnostics (OBD) port? This is an interface that allows mechanics to access your car’s data to read error codes, statistics and even program new keys.
Computer hackers have developed devices that plug into the port, boot up a vehicle’s software and then program a blank key fob. In keyless cars this can be used to start the engine as well as unlock the doors. The time needed for the programming process is as short as 14 seconds. The cost of programming gadgets on foreign websites is as low as £10.
It turns out, anyone can buy exploit kits that can utilize this port to replicate keys and program new ones to use them to steal a car. Now, that’s something that you don’t want to be a victim of.
How can you avoid it? Always go to a reputable mechanic. Moreover, a physical steering wheel lock can also help.
4. Close Range Testing
Some keyless fobs may still be in range of the car when it left inside the house near enough to the vehicle. Thieves can discreetly check by trying the door handles, which may unlock the doors. But they are unlikely to be able to drive off in the car if they do get inside. Keyless systems require a fob to be inside the car before the engine will start.
Even if owners do not fall victim to thieves, they may end up with a flat battery because the proximity of the key keeps electronic systems on standby.
5. Networking attacks
Criminals can also employ old-school denial of service (DoS)attacks to overwhelm your car and potentially shut down critical functions. Critical functions like airbags, anti-lock brakes, and door locks. This attack is completely possible since some connected cars even have built-in Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities. As with regular home Wi-Fi networks, they can even steal your personal data if they manage to infiltrate your car’s local network.
Also, it’s a matter of physical safety. Remember, modern cars are basically run by multiple computers and Engine Control Modules (ECMs). So if hackers can shut these systems down, they can put you in grave danger.
How to prevent this problem? It is necessary to change your car’s onboard Wi-Fi network’s password regularly.
6. App Hacking
This method is rarely used to steal a car. But it could become popular as car makers attempt to connect their vehicles with owners’ smartphones. Apps that allow drivers to unlock their car can let thieves do the same thing on their own phone. Hackers can easily can hack it and log in to the app as the vehicle’s owner. All they need is the password, which they may steal or guess.
7. In-car phishing
This is another old-school internet hack to steal a car. It is also making its way to connected cars, specifically models with internet connectivity and built-in web browsers.
It’s the old phishing scheme. In this technique criminals can send you emails and messages with malicious links and attachments that can install malware on your car’s system. As usual, whenever malware is installed, anything is possible. Unfortunately, car systems don’t have built-in malware protections yet. So this can be hard to spot.
What is the solution? Practice good computer safety practices even when connected to your car. Never open emails and messages. Also you shouldn’t follow links from unknown sources. Beware!
8. Telematics exploits
What is telematics? For introducing it simply, it’s a connected system that can monitor your vehicle’s behavior remotely. This data may include your car’s location, speed, mileage, tire pressure, fuel use, braking, engine/battery status, driver behavior and more.
As you know, anything that’s connected to the internet is vulnerable to exploits. Therefore, telematics is no exception. If hackers manage to intercept your connection, they can track your vehicle and even control it remotely.
Security tip: Before you get a car with built-in telematics, consult with your car dealer about the cybersecurity measures they’re employing on connected cars. If you do have a connected car, make sure its software is always up-to-date.
9. Code Grabbing
Thieves armed with advanced gadgets are thought to lie in wait for desirable cars. When the owner locks the doors, the signal is captured by the device, which then calculates the unlock code.
10. Tire pressure sensor hijack
Here’s a novel technique to steal a car! But it is happening. In this technique criminals are hijacking your tire sensors to send false tire pressure readings. Therefore, they can deceive you into stopping your car. In this way, you are creating an opportunity for them to attack you. It sounds a little crazy.
Want to prevent it? If you have to check your tires, always pull over at a well-lit, busy public area. For example it is preferably to pull over at a gas station or a service garage, so you can ask for assistance.