Is Your Transponder Key Making Your Car Vulnerable


Hello there, and welcome back to the Redlands Lock & Key blog! For the most part, transponder keys have been a valuable security measure that has decreased the rates of car theft and helped to ensure that vehicles are only started by the individuals who are supposed to be able to start them. Unfortunately, as all forms of wireless technology have shown, security is not something that is guaranteed. If an electronic device uses a signal that travels through the air, chances are good that someone is going to come up with a way to intercept that signal and use it for their own nefarious needs. In today’s post, we are going to go over a relatively recent hack that car thieves have developed in order to steal cars that are secured by transponder keys. We hope that this blog sheds a little light on a security issue you may not have been aware of and that after reading this post you have a better idea of how to protect your vehicle from this hack. Continue reading below to learn more.

How Do You Hack a Wireless Key?


For years, car owners have reported individuals approaching their vehicles with mysterious devices and, with almost no effort, being able to open the vehicle within seconds. While this was a known issue for years, it took some time for police and individuals who had had their vehicle stolen to understand exactly what was going on and how these thieves were able to seemingly break into their vehicle with absolutely no effort. Luckily, in 2016, a group of German vehicle security researchers released new findings that hoped to shed some light on the method by which these thieves were breaking into vehicles. From their findings, they concluded that thieves were using a kind of “amplification attack” that extended the range of unsuspecting car owners’ wireless key fob, allowing thieves to open the doors of the vehicle and, in some cases, start the vehicle’s ignition system. Even worse, researchers found that thieves could perform this attack with parts that totaled around $225, meaning that the monetary barrier of entry for this attack is relatively low.

How Does The Hack Work?


For this hack to work, thieves simply need to have a pair of radio devices that are able to communicate with each other over a short distance, with one held near the victim’s vehicle and the other held near the victim’s key fob. The first radio impersonates the car’s key and communicates with the car’s wireless entry system. That signal is then relayed between the thieve’s radios, grabbing the correct response from the key, which is then transmitted back to the car. This process trick’s the car into thinking that the key has been activated, allowing the thieves to easily get into the victim’s vehicle.


Thank you for taking the time to read our short blog post. While this method of attack is not all that common, it is still important to be vigilant when it comes to your vehicle’s security. If you would like to learn more about your transponder key and the steps you can take to make sure that your vehicle is protected, please contact us today at Redland’s Lock & Key.