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How Thief-Friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 9:10 AM

See this story about the theft of a Mercedes in England.

One of the thieves picked up the key fob's signal from inside the owner's house. is there a way to prevent this? Like leaving the fob in one of those containers that protect credit card info from thieves?

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#1

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 9:25 AM

<...is there a way to prevent this?...>

Er, one might take the battery out of the key fob, perhaps...

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#2

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 9:38 AM

Why is the key fob continuously transmitting? Are people really too lazy to press a button on the fob to activate it?

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#5
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 10:39 AM

Why is the key fob continuously transmitting?

The way they work is when you touch a button on the door handle of the car, it sends a signal to the key fob which answers with the required code. The transmitted level is low to permit this exchange to only work within a short range.

The thief uses an amplifier that receives the signal and amplifies it so that the key fob can receive the signal from a greater distance, within your house, for example. This can be prevented by shielding the key fob by keeping it in a metal box, e.g. the refrigerator.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 10:44 AM

So it is just because people are too lazy to press a button ...

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#7
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 10:56 AM

Yes!

And, if you lose one they are at least $200.00 USD and up to replace.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 11:13 AM

I think they do press buttons.

The fob for my Mazda is apparently always in contact with the car. If the fob is anywhere near the car, I push a button on the car's door to open it. Once the fob is inside the car I push a button to start the car.

There isn't a place to insert a key; it only works via the fob.

At home the car is garaged, so it's unlikely to be stolen like this. Unlikely at work, too, but it's good to be aware that thieves have this technology.

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#9
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 11:16 AM

But if you had to press a button on the fob (as I do for my Ford) this vulnerability would never have arisen.

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#15
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 1:07 PM

Agreed. I had/have Fords and Toyotas with fobs that required pressing a button for activation.

Now that I've seen that video, I realize that my Mazda is more susceptible to theft than I'd imagined.

Also, now that I think about it, I've had Fords and Toyotas for years that never required a new battery in the fob, but after just a couple years the battery in my Mazda fob had to be replaced. I imagine the continuously-active fob drains the battery faster.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 11:27 AM

Not so.

There are many button-less key fobs today.

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#16
In reply to #10

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 1:11 PM

I was attempting a humorous reply to "too lazy to press a button" with my 'I think they do press buttons' comment -- i.e., they were pressing buttons on the car to open it and in the car to start it, as I do with my Mazda.

Humor fail. Nevermind.

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#19
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 1:49 PM

Oh well, we can't all be like Johnny Carson, or Carnac the Magnificent.

The first button-less car I rented was probably 10 + years ago before I even had a car with a remote lock. At the rental agency it started fine but when I tried to start it later it'd fire, then die. After much consternation and cussing under my breath (I had one of the boys with me) I discovered that I had to plant my foot on the brake pedal to get it to run.

Big Brother is sometimes too kind for us old folks.

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#13
In reply to #6

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 11:53 AM

"So it is just because people are too lazy to press a button ..."

Yup, pretty much so. It's another case of sacrificing security for a little bit of convenience. It seems that the more complicated they make things, the more ways there are to foil them.

I would rather push the button on the fob to lock and unlock. It's not hard to get into the habit. And if the door unlocks automatically when I touch it, I wonder if it was really locked when I was not there.

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#14
In reply to #6

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 12:31 PM

To be a little bit fairer it's not that they're too lazy to press a button: it's because they're too lazy to get the key out of their clothing or find it in their handbag.

Also to be fair my wife's second hand Nissan Micra has keyless entry: she didn't buy it because she's lazy about the key, she bought it because it was cheap and she liked the car. The keyless entry was just a bonus (as we thought at the time, and, I don't suppose there will be many thieves on the look out for that model), and the ability to just let the key disappear in the handbag certainly works for her.

However we did nearly manage an almighty cock up one day: she drove to the supermarket and went in while I went round to the drivers seat and set off to fill up with petrol (gas). Fortunately I realised how stupid I was being* before I got to the petrol station and just drove back and parked at the supermarket.

* OK I realised how stupid I was being in that situation: I'm sure there have been thousands of instances where I am still blissfully unaware.

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#34
In reply to #14

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 2:17 PM

cock up ( )

Fill in the parenthesis.

Like, petrol ( gas )

English, English !

thanks.

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#39
In reply to #34

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

12/01/2017 5:26 AM

The Merriam Webster Definition comes closest to the meaning I've always ascribed to it:

"a situation that is complicated, unpleasant, or difficult to deal with because of someone's mistake crass stupidity."

I would never have imagined that it was a UK only term.

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#37
In reply to #6

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

12/01/2017 4:14 AM

GA from me!

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#36
In reply to #5

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 11:44 PM

Aha! Just what I always needed.........the key to cryogenic technology!!!!

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#3

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 9:45 AM
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#4

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 10:37 AM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the obvious.

It is used to protect some of us from the dangers of lethal cosmic radiation, it should work here.

Maybe this is how it's done?

Modern Security - How Remote Entry Works | HowStuffWorks

  • If you are a mile away from your car (or the car isn't yours) and accidentally push the button on the transmitter, the transmitter and receiver are no longer synchronized. The receiver solves this problem by accepting any of the next 256 possible valid codes in the pseudo-random number sequence. This way, you (or your three-year-old child) could "accidentally" push a button on the transmitter up to 256 times and it would be okay -- the receiver would still accept the transmission and perform the requested function. However, if you accidentally push the button 257 times, the receiver will totally ignore your transmitter. It won't work anymore.
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#23
In reply to #4

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 9:43 AM

Thinking outside the car-theft question, this is another reason I am not interested in outfitting my house with "smart" technology; too easily hacked.

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#24
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 9:56 AM

I am not interested in outfitting my house with "smart" technology;

I would call this 'smart' technology. I put in a keypad entry on my house and the garden shed in the back yard. I love it. I believe its just as good as the traditional key, but like a lot of locks, it can be circumvented.

But it is great when family is stopping over or visiting, if they are coming in late, and everyone is sleeping to gave them a temporary code for entry.

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:08 AM

Remember to change the code regularly. With a keypad entry lock that's used daily for a while, the most-often pressed keys get worn, so it cuts down the number of tries a would-be thief would need (24 for a 4-key code).

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:14 AM

True.

Just take a good look at your laptop keys to see how pronounced this can be.

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#27
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:14 AM

Yes, that is a good recommendation... I don't recall how many numbers are stored... I think (6), but each one in our house hold has their own pass number. And then I have a floating number for other family or regular guests visiting, And that is the one that gets changed... most times.

24 times to solve a 4 digit?,... that doesn't seem correct, where there are 9999 10,000 possibilities (best case)

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#28
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:27 AM

But because of the key-wear, they only have 4 keys to try (giving 24 possible perms).

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#29
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:39 AM

I see,... and in our case with multiple sets,... even with new key pad, with (4) different numbers it drops from 1-10,000 to 1-2500 possibilities best case. and with worn pads,...

but then again... compared to the traditional way, it would be the same if a sledge and a drift pin was used. I feel comfortable with my due diligence.

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#31
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:46 AM

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#30
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 10:41 AM

He was talking about a lock with ten buttons and only one four digit code: if the thief sees this:-

1#3#5

6#8#0

Where the hashes are the worn out keys, he only needs to try the 24 combinations using 2, 4, 7 and 9.

The same trick works if the thief watches you enter the house then quickly takes a picture with an infrared camera: the four buttons you pressed are still hotter than the rest so they show up on his camera; might even still retain the order information if he's lucky.

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#32
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 12:21 PM

It doesn't even have to get worn. Shine a penlight on the buttons, and you can often see where dust is wiped off or oil residue is left from fingers.

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#33
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 12:25 PM

Now I have the theme from 'Mission Impossible' playing in my head...

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#11

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 11:27 AM

I'm surprised they don't have a rolling code (a.k.a. Hopping code) like they do on garage door openers.

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#12

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 11:28 AM

yes there is a way to prevent it,...

  • don't leave your keys by the front door near your car,
  • or keep them in a shielded box.
  • Or sell your Mercedes, and buy a bicycle, invest what you have left in bonds ... but your still have to keep your bike locked up.
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#17

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 1:33 PM

If you are rich enough to afford a vehicle with this feature then you can afford the insurance to replace it in the unlikely event it gets stolen.

I am not a fan of proximity keyless entry and vehicle control. I have managers that have this feature and it has left their vehicles vulnerable.

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#18

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 1:44 PM

There is a solution to that.

.

.

.

.

Wait for it...

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#20
In reply to #18

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 2:29 PM

Not necessarily. Depending on the year of the vehicle it may have a transponder key.

Replacement blank keys are $15.00 USD. Programming is another $70.00 or so. If you still have a factory transponder key, some vehicles will allow "in-vehicle" cloning of a replacement xponder key.

Hint. If the key breaks and you still have the head, just tape it to the underside of the steering column and just use a $3.00 key from the hardware store.

Like these.

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#21
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 5:31 PM

Oh, it has the transponder (2006 Explorer), but that is different from the "always on" key FOBS we have been discussing.

Even if they tried, they couldn't pickup a signal from the back of the fenced in yard; but I would love to see them try:

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#22
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/29/2017 7:20 PM

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#38
In reply to #20

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

12/01/2017 4:34 AM

This was discussed a while back - http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/112375/Modern-Cars

Even with remote locking via pushbutton key, you still need the key to release the steering lock. With keyless, once you've hacked in you're good to go.

I believe keyless has a steering lock, with electromagnet to apply (or release) it. So the steering lock is no help against the sort of attack considered here. If that's not right will somebody please correct me?

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#35

Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

11/30/2017 2:27 PM

Stories like this have been around on the Internet since 2006 or so.

The upshot from Snopes is that while it can be done, it requires quite a high level of highly model specific technology and assembly skill, perhaps more than the common car thief would invest in most vehicles.

Snopes does a good job taking apart some of the misconception, see this-

https://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/lockcode.asp

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#40
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Re: How Thief-friendly Is Keyless Technology?

12/01/2017 5:38 AM

Recording the use of the real key then using the information to spoof one, is, a much more difficult process than the one described here which is to simply relay the "conversation" between the real key and the car.

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#41

Re: How Thief-Friendly Is Keyless Technology?

12/05/2017 8:51 PM

I don't think it is a question of laziness. The automobile companies are constantly trying to come up with new gadgets they can sell to the public. If it wasn't available, I'm sure the public would not miss it. Take the push button start for example: How much more effort is it to turn a key over pushing a button? Push button start is common on race cars; I guess the public thinks that is cool and gives them the feeling of driving a formula one car. That is after all the same reason people want loud throaty exhaust systems and burn-out starts.

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