[EAS] How to lock your car

Peter J. Kindlmann pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon Jan 26 00:03:47 EST 2009

Dear Colleagues -

This was sent to me by a colleague. Technically I see no reason why 
the car locking ID code couldn't be "sniffed" within range of the 
wireless transaction between your key pendant and your car -- and 
then be used to unlock it.

Mind you, I have not researched the details of automotive security 
provisions used these days. There may be more secure provisions in 
high-end cars. But until you're sure of your situation, this is 
advice to consider.

And of course there is stuff on the Web about this, e.g.
but there are counter claims 
<http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/automobiles/a/car_locks.htm> that 
consider present remote key entry systems sufficiently secure so as 
to consign the below to urban legend. And indeed the below text seems 
to have been circulating on the Internet since mid-2008. Just try 
googling on a characteristic sentence.

Anyway, if you're concerned about a guy with a laptop in a nearby car 
watching you lock your car, there is no harm in locking it using the 
lock button.

Of course, insecurity involving cars can take other cruder forms. 
Garage door openers could get swiped as part of valet parking, and 
your home address is on your insurance card in your glove compartment.

Sorry to add troubling thoughts to already beleaguered times. 
"Security" is really only an ever-shifting level of inconvenience. 

>I locked my car --- as I walked away I heard my car door unlock, I 
>went back and locked my car again, three times.
>I looked around and there were two guys sitting in a car in the fire 
>lane next to the store. When I looked straight at them they did not 
>unlock my car again.
>While traveling, my son stopped at a roadside park. He came out to 
>his car less than 4-5 minutes later and found someone had gotten 
>into his car, and stolen his cell phone, laptop computer, GPS 
>navigator briefcase.....you name it.   ... Called the police and 
>since there were no signs of his car being broken into - the police 
>told him that there is a device that robbers are using now to clone 
>your security code when you lock your doors on your car using your 
>key-chain locking device..  They sit a distance away and watch for 
>their next victim.  They know you are going inside of the store, 
>restaurant, or bathroom and have a few minutes to steal and run.
>The police officer said to manually lock your car door-by hitting 
>the lock button inside the car, that way if there is someone sitting 
>in a parking lot watching for their next victim it will not be you.
>When you hit the lock button on your car upon exiting...it does not 
>send the security code, but if you walk away and use the door lock 
>on your key  chain - it sends the code through the airwaves where it 
>can be stolen.  Something totally new to us...and real.
>Be aware of this and please pass this not on...look how many times 
>we all lock our doors with our remote...just to be sure we 
>remembered to lock them....and bingo someone has our code...  and 
>whatever was in the car...can be stolen.

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