Technology has done wonders for the automotive industry. The digitization of the automobile has made them safer while filling them with exciting new features. However, modern conveniences often come with caveats, and the car is no different. Security experts are warning owners about the vulnerabilities associated with key fobs and how easy it is for hackers to access, steal, and mimic a fob’s unique signal, according to a new report from The Detroit Free Press. Yes, this includes General Motors key fobs.
According to the report, the easiest way for consumers to protect themselves is to keep their key fob protected via a tin can, aluminum foil, or Faraday cage—a device that blocks electromagnetic signals such as those emitted from the key fob. A vehicle is always ready to receive the signal from the key fob. All hackers have to do is copy the code to access the vehicle. This is done by amplifying a key fob signal, which is possible through devices readily available for purchase, allowing thieves to capture key fob signals outside of homes.
“The cyber threat is so dynamic and ever changing, it’s hard for consumers to keep up,” Holly Hubert, a cybersecurity expert who retired from the FBI in 2017, told the Detroit publication. He suggested wrapping your key fob in aluminum foil when it’s not in use. “Although it’s not ideal, it is the most inexpensive way.”
Like a tinfoil hat, but for your key fob, it seems.
You can test how effective your homemade Faraday cage is by seeing if a caged key fob can still lock and unlock your car doors. If it doesn’t work, then your key fob signal is protected.
Automakers ushered in the digitization of the key fob to stop thieves from being able to hotwire a car and steal it from someone’s driveway. However, that digitization makes stealing a vehicle easier than ever. It’s almost as if these added complexities to the modern vehicle aren’t solving decades-old problems. Instead, they’re transforming how such issues arise.
This time, though, technologies such as OnStar and its Stolen Vehicle Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown features can help owners recover a stolen vehicle. Maybe it’s time to move back to a simple metal key and eliminate the digital part of the key fob. It is doubtful owners would want to give up the convenience for added safety.