Hack Could Unlock Millions of Cars

A team of researchers found a gap in the code for keyless entry systems that can allow someone to unlock the vehicle’s doors using a cloned key.

I think we can all agree that Volkswagen is having a tough year. I mean… all you do is program your emissions software to be effective during government testing and then turn off the rest of the time, and everybody is all over you!

Well, here’s another doozy. Wired is reporting that 100 million Volkswagens have been revealed to possess a major security vulnerability. Specifically, University of Birmingham computer scientist Flavio Garcia – known for researching auto security flaws – has announced that his team of researchers found a gap in the code for the keyless entry system that unlocks the vehicle’s doors. But don’t worry, VW. It only applies to practically every single vehicle you’ve produced in the last 20 years.

There are two different cyber attacks that can put these systems at risk, and both use a cheap, easily available piece of radio hardware to intercept signals from a victim’s key fob, then employ those signals to clone the key. The good news: the process can be tedious, and the hacker needs to be pretty close – like within 300 feet. The bad news? Once you crack the code, you can use your cloned “key” to lock and unlock the doors as many times as you want.

The long term fix is that Volkswagen needs to ditch their chips that use a legacy code that’s been around forever, and isn’t quite up to snuff like the newer algorithms. And for the consumer? Experts say to avoid leaving valuables in your car and, if you’re paranoid, go back to the old fashioned door key to reduce your risk of key fob code rip-off.