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THE NEXT TIME you press your wireless key fob to unlock your car, if you find that it doesn’t beep until the second try, the issue may not be a technical glitch. Instead, a hacker like Samy Kamkar may be using a clever radio hack to intercept and record your wireless key’s command. And when that hacker walks up to your vehicle a few minutes, hours, or days later, it won’t even take those two button presses to get inside.

$35 worth of hardware, more or less.


Here's how it works: Modern cars and garage door openers use what is called a "rolling code" system. That is, the code transmitted works exactly once, and the two devices have a "master" sequence generator. Thus, when you "pair" the remote to the car (or garage door) the devices are able to know the next sequence number. When you send the code the device marks where it was last and then searches forward, but never backward.

This means if you press the remote when not in range it's ok, as the car (or garage door) will keep searching forward until it finds the key. But if you capture a press of the fob and replay it that's worthless, since the opener or car will not allow a code to be re-used; it is valid only once.

What this device does is intercept the first press and jam the receiver on the car or door opener. It now has the first press, but the (legitimate) receiver never saw it. The door doesn't open and of course you press the button again. The device jams the second code too, but repeats the first one -- which works because the car or opener never saw it the first time.

Unfortunately the device now has stored the next code in the sequence and it can play it back any time the owner of the device wants to.

When he does, voila -- your car or garage door opens.
 

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I have insurance, cameras and guns.
I don't worry about that silly stuff.
 
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