Is it possible to hack into cars without keys?

We live in the electronic age. They are everywhere, not only because we are almost all equipped with personal computers, phones or tablets, but also because other everyday objects contain them. And especially vehicles.

What's at stake in new cars

While manufacturers are proud of their connected cars, thanks to all the on-board electronics, they have not been able to measure the risks they can put users at risk. Indeed, there are flaws in the operating systems of these real rolling computers. And because those who write the programs don't think they'll be hacked, no one really secures the cars.

Concerns about car hacking

However, recent events have shown us that it is much easier than we think to hack into a car, without the need for keys. This is a plus for thieves, because the car does not suffer in this case from any vandalism. The resale is therefore faster, and more expensive. In the United States, a gang that had more than 150 thefts of luxury vehicles (for more than 4 million Euros) ended up being arrested.

But the fact remains that the process is quite simple.

Now considering the car as a mini-network, the only difficulty is to integrate the network in question. Once you're inside, you do what you want with it. The methods are therefore all similar in close or far.

The process

First, we block the centralized door closure system. And this can be done with a simple mobile phone. Then, once the car is opened, the experts take less than three minutes, via the OBD socket (the one used by the mechanics to completely diagnose your car when you go to do your maintenance) to enter the network.

From there, two options emerge. Either the car is stolen in the process, or spyware is inserted into the on-board computer. Thus, the pirates spot the vehicle's journeys and wait for the best time to come and steal it.

Taking control of the vehicle

The device used to connect to the vehicle is easily found on the internet, and it is perfectly legal to have one at home. But some researchers have gone further. They showed that the have could control a car remotely, using a simple PC. Using a case no bigger than a smartphone hidden in the car, the criminals wait for the right moment and take control of the vehicle. They can act on the brakes, accelerator, headlights, etc.

The last developments of this type of case is cold in the back, because it now becomes very simple to subject to a person you do not like, the worst torments.

Whether your car needs a key to start, or it's a keyless vehicle (i.e. with a connected chip, which you carry in your pocket or bag), the problem is the same.

From the moment the car makes the most of electronics and internet connection, it is piatable … and easily.

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