Tech-savvy criminals hack keyless entry systems to steal cars - FOX 35 News Orlando

Tech-savvy criminals hack keyless entry systems to steal cars

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

We all have car keys with the remote entry lock button, but a Chicago area fraud expert warns there's a new technology available that could allow thieves to steal your car-- or its belongings-- with one simple push of a button.

Bill Kresse, also known as "professor fraud," heads the Center for the Study of Fraud and Corruption at Chicago's St. Xavier University.

Kresse says within the past few years, cyber criminals have cracked the code on some car remote controls and developed technology that allows them to clone a nearby signal.

"With every new convenience will come those who will exploit that convenience for their own evil ways," Kresse says. "As you unlock your vehicle, if they're nearby, they can pick up that signal that's being transmitted through the air. And if they have the right software, they can decode that encrypted signal and figure out what the code is to open your car."

Once they have your code, they simply transfer it to a second blank key fob or other device, and then open your car using the new remote control.

"If you have anything in the vehicle, it's stolen. If they want to they can get past the ignition lock system, hot wiring it or whatever, and steal the vehicle itself," Kresse explains.

Chicago police believe that's what happened last year when several cars were broken into on the North Side near Grace and Ashland. And while the number of code cloning thefts is still small compared to the old fashioned smash and grab, Kresse says there are ways to protect yourself-- such as putting a second alarm system in your car.

"So someone may be able to get into your vehicle and open your door, but then you have a separate alarm system that you can control separately inside the vehicle that'll go off, so just having the key fob will not be enough to access the vehicle," says Kresse.

Auto manufacturers have been aware of the potential for code-stealing for some time, so they've programmed these key fob remotes to change their codes automatically every time they're used. Still, it appears some hi-tech thieves have figured out a way around that reset.

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