Keyless Go, unlocking the car door by radio signal, is a practical thing. Unfortunately, many car crackers know this, too. Therefore, this technique also has drawbacks.
The bag is in the left hand, the mobile phone or the packed shopping bag is in the right. Ideal if the car is then equipped with the Keyless Go system. Once you move away from it or get close to it, the doors are locked or unlocked by the radio signal. So far, very practical. Unfortunately, this technology is also used by criminals in order to gain access to valuables deposited in the vehicle or to steal the entire vehicle. “In order to steal vehicles with Keyless Go technology, there is no need to hack data or use complex decryption techniques,” says Konstantin Hack. A so-called range extender is enough, which you can quickly make with a sufficient criminal engine. “The radio signal is then amplified in such a way that the car pretends the key is nearby and can then open the doors,” says Auto Club Europa (ACE) Road Safety and Technology Editor.
Problem: Vehicle owners usually don’t even notice what’s happening to them. “As an average consumer, you don’t even notice data theft, it’s enough for someone to walk right in front of you to intercept the data on your key,” says Peter Holmstwell. Criminals have long specialized in keyless travel and not only have the technical know-how, but also the technology to unlock and steal a car unnoticed, says a security expert at the German Insurance Association (GDV).
But you are not at the mercy of scammers. These are almost simple measures that actually provide a certain degree of security. “It’s best to park the car overnight in one lockable garage,” advises Hack, knowing full well that not everyone has that option. “But it also helps to park the car somewhere it can always be seen, ideally under a street lamp, for example,” Holmstwell says. “The perpetrators do not like the brightness and therefore the visibility.” In addition, it is important to ensure that the vehicle sends the appropriate visual and/or audio signal when it is locked. “If the vehicle beeps and/or flashes, you can be sure that no technology has been used that prevents communication between the key and the vehicle,” says the expert.
Those are the principles. But of course a lot can be done to nip criminal energy in the bud. “It is advisable to keep the remote control key separately. Special storage boxes are well suited for this,” says Hack. “This way, the signal from the key can no longer be diverted, for example if the offender passes in front of you in a parking lot.” However, since this signal is also strong enough to penetrate doors or even walls, radio switches used indoors should not move away from outside doors and windows. “Criminals are also running down the stairs of apartment buildings and trying to intercept signals on apartment doors,” Holmstwell says. Thus, a typical key box next to the door is not the place for proper storage.
Of course you can also use your technology against technology thieves. “Alarm systems and immobilizers that have to be disabled by a small additional transmitter make theft more difficult,” Hack says. The signals from these additional devices are usually sent on a different frequency, and it would still be very expensive for thieves to communicate this. And no, because scammers also upgrade when technology evolves. Both experts agree: There is no such thing as 100% protection. At least not if you do not want to do without this convenient technology. The safest way to prevent misuse is to not use Keyless Go at all.
Hack remembers the traditional way to open a door: “Radio keys still have a classic metal key.” And if you want to be on the safe side, it’s best to use the steering wheel clutch: “Just seeing it usually deters potential thieves.”