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Thread: hijacking car remote signals

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2000

    Question hijacking car remote signals

    Is this real?

    Snopes approved.
    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.
    How to lock your car safely
    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 name it ... called the police and since there were no signs
    of his car being broke n int o- 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.. Th ey 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 be sure 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 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 note on..look how
    many times we all lock our doors with our keys...just to be sure we
    remembered to lock them....and bingo someone have our code...and whatever was
    in the car...can be gone.
    Keep safe everyone

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    United States

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    I don't know anything about that incident, but yes its possible.

    Those remotes give off a special coded signal. There is a device in the car that scans for those signals. When a signal is received it decodes it, and if the code matches the devices code it forces the doors to unlock. When you hit your remote any car in range of your remote (assuming similar make and model) receives the code. But its only accepted if the code stored in the device matches the code stored in your car. The code is imprented at the device's manufacture.

    If the remote code does not match the code stored in the receiving device then the code is just ignored. Its a simple software program. Someone with a lot of knowledge could easily get their hands on that device figure out how it works, and then create a similar device which instead of testing the code and unlocking the doors simply dumps the remotes code onto a cousole window.

    Code Imprinter? You can steal one from the manufacture or even a car dealership that installs the door locks, then use that to program the remote in your hand with the code from the console window.

    That is only one possible way, but its simple technology, yes it can be hacked. The average person wont be able to do it, but get someone with a little inside information, or pay someone off and your in.

    A perfect example, my girlfriend just bought a used car about a month ago. The guy who sold it had no idea what the code was to unlock the door. It had key-less entry. She took it down to a dealership and for a charge the hooked up a piece of computer equipment to her car and the computer within a few seconds spit out all of the codes onto a screen. The key-less entry code, remote code, electronic key code (one of those keys that has a chip). What would you do if you lost your car remote? You'd take it to a dealership and buy a new remote. They are not going to take apart your entire car, they are going to download your remote's code, and use their imprinter to put it onto a new remote.

    The technology exists, it was just a matter of time before it got into the wrong hands.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    In the back seat of New Horizons.

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    I don't see why it would be impossible. I'm more surprised that it hasn't been more popular already.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    United States

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    I'm sure its been done for a while. It probably just took the police a long time to figure out that it was happening.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Dresden, Germany

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    I heard from a friend of mine here in Ger-Money ( ) that he tried to unlock his car and at the same time another car on the other side of the street has been unlocked too. He put a Post-It note at the other car and the owners of both cars (same manufacturer but different models) met each other.

    Then they went to the car dealer and he confessed that this is unlikely but possible. The manufacturer confirmed a software bug (!).

    With regards

  6. #6
    PeejAvery's Avatar
    PeejAvery is offline Super Moderator Power Poster
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    Anything that gives off any form of RF can be tracked. In fact, recently there has been a huge scare about wireless keyboards. It turns out that people have been wirelessly logging keys for years.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    JHB South Africa

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    The same is been done for automatic gates, and any item that uses radio waves to open.. the main problem is the very small radio band used for remotes.. "the band 433.05 to 434.79MHz is available using approved radio transmitter and receiver modules." (in steps of ~ 0.025MHz)

    Your Central Locking, Alarm and Gate motor, all work in this small band (only 70 frequency's). This small band is easy to monitor, and some 'Off the shelf - radio shack' equipment can do this.

    Then most remotes use a simple 12 bit 3 state code (Low, Float, High), this gives you just over 530K unique codes. or 37 mil unique remotes.. Very easy numbers for any PC to crunch..

    A local security store has a 'HOME MADE' receiver that they use to help people with recoding replacement remotes. These are very simple to make if you know how the codes are transmitted. Put a Booster on these and you can pickup from well across the parking lot. Some of these remotes have as much as 100m range with out boosting..

    This is obviously a big problem for everyone concerned, however many manufacturers are working on self recoding remotes.. IE. the same code is only ever sent once, so a retransmit of codes will not work, however there are still problems with locking 2 or 3 remotes to a single receiver.

    Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done now, for those with the current technology, all you can do is be vigilent and careful.

    Some tips..

    * Press the remote for very short periods only, Just long enough for the receiver to acknowledge it.

    * Stand next to your vehicle when pressing, The further from the vehicle, the more likely the code needs to be sent a number of times. Surrounding RF interfearence can cause problems.

    * Hold the remote low when pressing. the higher you hold the remote the further the range.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Birmingham, UK

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    And of course...
    ...his cell phone, laptop computer, GPS navigator name it ...
    Don't leave anything valuable behind in any car.. Not only for the high-tech thieves, but also the ones who use a brick or crow-bar to "unlock" your vehicle.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Fox Lake, IL

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    I had a Compaq IPAQ a few years ago. It had software to be a 'learning remote'. It saved the frequency it used. I thought it would be pretty easy to crunch thru a few know frequecies, and sure enough, it worked.

    In about 6 minutes, all cars could (at a car dealer) be unlocked. (Then I heard that some police radios also have this ability)

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

    Re: hijacking car remote signals

    This has happened with many types of remotes. Some of the newer ones use a progressive security sequence (each time you press the button it sends a different code. This is similar to how RSA Key "fobs" work [where the 6 digit number constantly changes; with the difference that the timing is faster, and the reciever will NOT accept a given code once it has already processed it [thus preventing cloning of the SIGNAL]

    An interesting side effect of these is that the timing goes out of sync fairly quickly, causing the receiver to ignore the first press of a button on the remote. If you find that in the morning (or any other time when you have not used the remote for over a few hours) that you ALWAYS have to hit the button twice, then you almost cerainly have this type of capability.
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