How thieves break into locked cars and hack the key fob to prevent it

Two experts agree that aluminum foil works – here’s how to do it.

Marcus Hutchins is a former hacker turned security researcher who recently showed people how to spot hidden cameras in Airbnbs and hotels. Now Marcus is back to make people live safer lives again. This time it’s about car thieves.

In the viral video above, Marcus explains how people can steal wireless car keys, saying, “The way thieves steal them is that the car and the key talk to each other, and they use a very high frequency. , very short range so that they can only hear each other when they are very close. So the car knows if it can hear the key, the key is very close to the car, and this will allow the door to unlock and the engine to start.

“So let’s say the owner is sleeping in the house. They make a device like a walkie-talkie, except instead of voice, it’s for the frequency that the car and the key talk on. And they put one side near the door where it can pick up the car key signal, and the other side near the car where it can pick up the car signal. And then it will send them wirelessly between each side, and basically the car and key can talk to each other over a longer range.”

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“It makes the car think the key is closer when really it’s just this walkie-talkie type device, and as long as the two sides can talk to each other, the car will think the key is inside and will allow the engine to keep This will allow them to drive to a nearby garage and swap the module with a new key and then sell the car.”

Marcus then made another video where he showed what a keyless car hack would look like:

“The big box that the guy in front is holding is a really powerful antenna, and it will be able to pick up the signal from the key from outside the house,” he explains in his TikTok.

“The smaller device that the guy in the back has relays that signal to the car allowing it to unlock the door and start the engine. Now it’s actually a lot easier than stealing a regular car. They can just walk with this device and then drive away with the car.”

In Marcus’ initial video, he says wrapping aluminum foil tightly around your key fob can help stop the break-in because it prevents the key from communicating with the car.

BuzzFeed also spoke with digital health, safety and wellbeing expert August Brice. She is the founder of Tech Wellness, a platform informed by experts in cybersecurity, public health and screen addictions to provide solutions for living safer and healthier lives in our digital world.

August confirmed that thieves use wireless transmitter boxes to pick up radio frequency identification (RFID) signals from key fobs, just as Marcus described. “They use wireless transmitter boxes that were first developed for law enforcement – ugh,” she said.

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And she backed up Marcus’ claim that the sheet can successfully block RFID signals. To further prove his point, August actually made a video showing that as long as a key fob is properly wrapped with a large amount of foil, it successfully obstructs the signal. “When doubled or quadrupled and well sealed, it blocks RFID signals.”

August Brice / Tech Wellness

August also points out in the video above that faradays can also be an option. For those who don’t know, faradays are specially designed to block RFID signals. “The keychain faradays are lined with a material made of a mixture of metallic threads to block an array of wireless signals,” she said.

I hope this information can help you protect yourself from a possible break-in. Be safe there!