Smart Keys or proximity remotes offer the convenience of being able to lock/unlock and start your vehicle without having to touch the key.
The downside to this easy to use system is that they are far more vulnerable to hacking than your traditional remote and key.
Since Immobilisers became standard equipment back in the mid-1990’s (OK maybe 2000’s and later for some models in NZ) the easiest way to steal a vehicle has been by taking the keys. Now, however, the key does not even need to be taken to gain access to a vehicle and it’s becoming a big problem.
What is a Relay Attack?
A Relay Attack normally requires two people. Typically one person stands by your vehicle, whilst the other stands near the front door of your house with a device that can pick up the signal from your key fob.
The fob signal is then relayed to the vehicle and it unlocks like it would when the fob is in range!
The video below shows a car being stolen whilst parked in the owners drive.
What can be done to protect against this?
- Don’t leave your car keys by the front door or a window. Consider putting them inside a Faraday bag when not in use. You can get one for under $10.00 on Ali Express
- Always make sure your car is locked (Check that the doors lock with the remote or look for the hazard lights to flash or you are giving someone easy access your vehicle).
- Some people have suggested using an old-fashioned steering lock, but let’s face it, you’d rather have a normal key and remote than faff around which makes your smart key somewhat pointless!
- Consider the Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS upgrade alarm with ADR card
Note: Vehicles that do not have smart keys are not vulnerable to a relay attack, despite some of the misleading news stories coming from so-called journalists!