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Newer model cars now easily hacked in mere seconds by thieves with high tech remotes

Thursday, March 06, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: new cars, vehicle theft, hackers

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(NaturalNews) Expert hackers have created a new high-tech crime tool that is now being used to discreetly unlock newer model cars. This little black box is a mysterious remote that is basically set up to mimic the vehicles' keyless remote entry frequencies. Police in many cities are dumbfounded at how the little black box works and where they are coming from, as multiple reports of "ghost-like" car robberies are now on the rise.

Mysterious, ghost-like thefts on the rise with newer vehicles

"It's really frustrating because a lot of times you think you're safe leaving things in your car," said Vickie Mackie from Vancouver, Canada. "It's like a ghost robbed your car. There's no sign of forced entry or anything."

She said she was only at her friend's apartment for a couple of hours when her 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan had been mysteriously broken into. Both women remember the car door locking. "We actually heard the alarm beep to confirm that," said the Vancouver woman. When she returned to her vehicle, several valuables had been taken, the glove box was open, and papers were scattered.

Small, black, box-like remotes caught on camera

This isn't the first case of its kind, as more pictures and evidence emerge in various cities. Hacker thieves are in possession of what appears to be a small, black, box-like remote that allows them to walk right up to newer model vehicles, point and click as the car door opens in mere seconds. Once inside, thieves usually take anything they can get their hands on, especially valuable electronics.

Pictures from Chicago show a thief pointing his device at a random vehicle parked alongside the road. Within seconds, the car unlocks, the alarm is disabled, and the thief slips in undetected.

In Long Beach, California, up to six vehicles were stolen from in one night, as two car thieves worked side-by-side to sabotage random vehicles. The successfully targeted vehicles included newer model Jeeps, Mazdas and BMWs. No keys, no lock picks, no sledgehammers -- the thieves made it look easy with their high-tech remotes. These guys were caught on tape here.

Law enforcement, car manufacturers stumped

Law enforcement in Texas report that they have gotten their hands on one of these boxes and are trying to figure out if the device is universal or tailored to specific car locks.

Not only is law enforcement stumped, but so are car manufacturers. A spokesman for BMW Canada, Robert Dexter, says the BMW's key transponder "communicates with a security control unit in the vehicle to validate and match the key to the vehicle, at which point the electronic door's locks are released.

"The transponder in the vehicle key communicates with an immobilizer control unit inside the vehicle. This unit separately immobilizes the engine starting system and gearshift lock."

Confident in BMW's vehicle security, Dexter is stumped on how this break-in technology really works, bewildered that hackers have found a way to outsmart today's new-age security measures.

According to Dexter, the key transponder and the vehicle computer brain are basically always "talking to each other" and exchanging unique identification codes. But hackers have found a way to intercept this frequency and mimic the communication, breaking through the security measures and effectively manipulating the car to unlock its doors at will.

Drivers are more vulnerable today operating computer-dominated vehicles

As technology advances in modern vehicles, so do the vulnerabilities. As modern vehicles continue to evolve into rolling computers, the unseen risks increase. Since computers now control various functions of vehicles, including locks, breaks, engine compression, cruise control, emergency communications, airbags and even steering, new-age hacking technology may put drivers at far greater risk than just being robbed.

Sources for this article include:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com

http://www.theglobeandmail.com

http://www.ksdk.com
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