As technology evolves, so does thievery. And while that wireless key fob might make getting into your car pretty easy, it turns out it's quite easy to hack.
With an unprotected fob, thieves can intercept the signal from the fob to a car with a special receiver, known as a “relay attack”. They can then use this to enter the car and even turn on the ignition. But there's a simple solution, as it appears just wrapping your fob in foil prevents the signals from being transmitted.
“Although it's not ideal, it is the most inexpensive way,” Holly Hubert, a cybersecurity expert, told the Detroit Free Press. “The cyber threat is so dynamic and ever changing, it’s hard for consumers to keep up.”
According to Wired, the attack tricks the car and your key into thinking they're in close proximity of each other. “One hacker holds a device a few feet from the victim's key, while a thief holds the other near the target car,” they said. “The device near the car spoofs a signal from the key.”
While it appears that ordinary foil will do the trick, Hubert suggests purchasing a Faraday bag, a small bag lined with metallic material to prevent signals from going in or out. You can use them for other devices too, like phones or tablets.
Speaking to ABC News, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said there had been no confirmed cases of a relay attack in the US. However, it does appear to be a known risk that car companies are trying to tackle, and there have been unverified reports of such attacks.
In the UK, Bristol resident Kieran Bingham claimed someone had broken into his car with a fake wireless fob. He said that when he went in the car, he found the glove box had been opened and items had been scattered, reports the Bristol Post.
“My thinking is someone is going round hacking wireless keys,” Bingham said. “That’s why I’ve wrapped it in foil, to stop the device finding your keys.”
It’s not just foil that can stop thieves though. A fridge or freezer, microwave oven, or even a metal biscuit tin can also apparently stop the signal from being intercepted. Just don’t get your fob all biscuity, or accidentally turn the microwave on with it inside.