Thousands Of Cars At Risk Of Keyless Theft

Posted: Aug 18 2015, 7:51am CDT | by , in News | Cars & Vehicles


Thousands of Cars at Risk of Keyless Theft
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  • Thousands of cars at risk of theft by electronic hacking!

A court injunction suppressed the research for 2 years fearing it would provide thieves with information.

Two years ago a research detailed how thousands of cars are at risk of theft. The research was suppressed for two years by a court injunction. The court believed the research could have aided thieves in their endeavors.

The research was carried out by computer security scientists. The research details how even high end card are at risk of electronic hacking. These cars can be Porsche and the Maseratis.

The research was carried out by researchers at the Birmingham University. Also the Radbound University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The research identifies a major flaw in the Megamos Crypto system. The system allow cars to open when car keys are lost.

The technology is currently being used by Audi, Fiat, Honda, Volvo, Volkswagen and more. The technology makes uses of Wireless key fobs to operate a car. A car does not open unless the right radio frequency identification chip is used. 

"This is a serious flaw and it's not very easy to quickly correct," Tim Watson, Director of Cyber Security at the University of Warwick, told Bloomberg (via Telegraph). "It isn't a theoretical weakness, it's an actual one and it doesn't cost theoretical dollars to fix, it costs actual dollars."

Vehicles that used Megamos Crypto for some version/year. The models in bold are those that the research team experimented with.

The research shown the researchers were able to intercept the signals between the chip and the key fob. Furthermore reverse engineering allowed the researchers to identify secret codes. The secret codes are used in starting the cars. 

The research was completed in 2012 but was prevented from publication. Volkswagen filed an injunction preventing the publication. The researchers argued against the court order.

According to the researchers the court order denied the public from crucial information. The researchers fought against the ban. And they were finally able to lift it at Usenix Security Symposium in Washington over the weekend. 

The research had started when the number of keyless car thefts rose. More than 6000 vehicles were stolen last year according to the Metropolitan Police. 

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