Protecting Your Keyless Car From Relay Attacks

Concerned about your keyless car getting broken into or stolen? You’re not the only one.

Fears about the newest form of automobile theft — known as relay attacks — have reignited after U.K. Police recently released video footage (via Express) of a Mercedes being stolen with the method.

For those unfamiliar, a relay attack is a car-stealing technique specific to vehicles that have wireless key systems (via Mirror). It requires two people for the job, and relies on manipulating radio frequencies.

Here’s how it usually works: one person uses a transmitter device to find the frequency of the wireless key inside a car owner’s home. That signal is sent to another device held by the second person close to the car. The car mistakenly thinks the wireless key is present, giving thieves the ability to enter and start the engine of the car.

While it sounds complex and high-tech, it’s actually a relatively simple, inexpensive process — leaving a large number of people vulnerable to burglarized vehicles and car theft.

Luckily, there are a few simple precautions car owners can take to protect against relay attacks.

Store Your Keys in Metal

According to Express, metal is the key component to blocking signals from the electronic fob key. The publication recommends storing your keys in a metal tin or microwave to thwart any potential interception attempts.

Embrace The Faraday Sleeve

A Faraday sleeve makes the signal-blocking process a little sleeker. Sometimes described as a Faraday bag or cage, the Faraday sleeve is made of material specifically designed to prevent radio transmissions. Keys stored in a Faraday sleeve are blocked from relay attacks.

The sleeves are readily available and relatively inexpensive. You’ll find multiple options for less than $50 on Amazon.

Install A GPS Tracker

A GPS tracker in your car will not necessarily prevent any initial acts of theft. But it can be a helpful component of car security protocol, as it increases the chances of a stolen vehicle being found by law enforcement.

[For more information on car safety and theft prevention, check out our article Accessories To Boost Your Car Security.]

Physical Locks

You can also employ more traditional car safety measures, like physical door locks and wheel clamps. These can provide a layer of protection even if electronic security protocols are compromised.

New Risks

Wireless car keys have ushered in an undoubtedly futuristic era, suggesting a time where vehicles are more sophisticated and safer than ever. Unfortunately, as relay attacks show, the future has its own security risks. (Personally, we at Security Baron have heard of this type of attack happening recently to friends.)

Luckily, with a little metal — and a few old-fashioned car security tricks — you can reduce your vulnerability to this method.


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