Keyless systems for cars: Practical and feasible to hack

Posted Feb 1, 2011 by Vincent Sobotka
Swiss researchers have proved that as the future of car manufacturing includes passive key-less entry and start (PKES) or "smart key" systems, the future of car thieving will shed the burdens of forced entry and the need for a physical ignition key.
Researchers from ETH Zurich demonstrate how a car thief can enter and start a car (if equipped with ...
Researchers from ETH Zurich demonstrate how a car thief can enter and start a car (if equipped with a wireless key system) using an antenna.
ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich university in Switzerland assembled a research team led by Dr. Srdjan Capkun, an assistant professor in the department of computer science, and a member of the university's system security group, to investigate the security of PKES or "smart key" systems appearing more frequently in modern-day automobiles. These systems allow for keyless entry and start of the vehicle.
Capkun states that his inspiration to investigate this matter came after he purchase a vehicle with such a feature.
Although the matter has been addressed by the IEEE for some time, no such findings were reported to provide such workable ease for an "average car thief."
According to an article published by MIT based on the results of the studies, the research team from ETH Zurich examined ten car models from eight different manufacturers. Their studies found that they were able to access and drive all ten cars by intercepting and relaying signals from the cars to their wireless keys. in addition to their conclusion the researchers found that they were also able to relay the signal from the key back to the car, but a criminal usually would not need to because the key of these systems transmits its signal to a maximum distance of around 100 meters.
This new research information will be presented in San Diego, California, at the 18th Annual Network & Distribution System Security Symposium (NDSS), from February 6 through February 9, 2011.