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Current Affairs

Cars vulnerable to hackers

Date: 08 March 2020 Tags: IT, Mobile & Computers

Issue

A joint study conducted by a group of researchers describes how electronic key-fobs used to lock and unlock cars can be hacked by cyber criminals with surprising ease, and how millions of cars are at risk.

 

Background

Over the past few years, owners of cars with keyless start systems have learned to worry about so-called relay attacks, in which hackers exploit radio-enabled keys to steal vehicles without leaving a trace.

 

Details

  • The key-fob, or immobiliser, enables the user of a vehicle to lock or unlock their car with the touch of a button. The system was invented to control car thefts, which are traditionally executed by touching certain wires in the ignition together, known as “hot-wiring” a car, which starts the ignition without a key.

  • All a hacker has to do is to use a Radio Frequency Identification device within close range of a key-fob, which exploits the vulnerability in the immobiliser system and downloads its secret code to the hacker’s device.

  • Using this information, the hackers can clone the target’s key-fob, use it to unlock the car and drive away without raising any alarm.

  • The only challenge that remains after hacking the key-fob is to override the ignition, but car thieves had surpassed that hurdle way back when they invented hot-wiring.

  • The car models named in the report include Auris, Camry, Corolla, FJ Cruiser, Fortuner, Hiace, highlander, hilux, Land Cruiser, RAV4, Urban Cruiser and Yaris by Toyota and I-10, I-20, Veloster, IX20 and I-40 by Hyundai.