19 Jan The Car Stealing “Mystery Device”
Isn’t technology amazing? Virtual reality devices are steadily advancing, self-driving cars will be roaming our streets soon, and drones are delivering Domino’s pizza. Although we mean for tech to be used for good, it often falls into the hands of the wrong people.
Imagine walking out to your driveway, and the valuables you left in your car are gone, or your vehicle itself isn’t there. You can’t find any tell-tale evidence that your car was broken into, such as broken glass. How could your car or its contents have vanished without a trace? Reports like these have been on the rise. Luckily, a few of these incidents were recorded by security cameras. The security footage revealed a small, electronic device that could unlock and sometimes start the target vehicle at will. The National Insurance Crime Bureau obtained a “mystery device” from a security organization overseas to better understand how it operated.
The “mystery device” is actually a relay attack unit and it’s a two-part system. The system can break into cars with a keyless entry system and can start cars with a push-button start. The first part of the system, the relay box, works by capturing the code being transmitted from the keyless fob remote to the car up to 10 feet away. Once the relay box has obtained the code, it will then transfer the code to the vehicle side relay box. The thief stands next to the vehicle, activates the vehicle side relay box, and can unlock the target vehicle. The mystery device can start the target vehicle if there is a push-button start.
The NICB tested the mystery device over a two week period on 35 different cars. The device was able to open 19 of the 35 cars successfully. Of the 19 cars they were able to open, the device could start 18. At this time, there is no way to defend your vehicle from the “mystery device.” In the meantime, car owners can be defensive by always locking their vehicles and removing valuables from the vehicle.