Car theft 101

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rotor
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Car theft 101

Postby rotor » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:30 pm

My daughters car was stolen right out of her yard with locked doors and no obvious forcible entry when recovered (but was totaled). I never knew how it happened but my wife's car has one of those key fobs that you can leave in your pocket and start your car by pushing the start button. Doors unlock when you touch the door handle. The key fob is always transmitting. She keeps hers in her purse and I almost never drive her car but my fob located next to my computer and cell phone charger was always needing a replacement battery every few months. Hers lasted for years. Here is what the problem was. Mine was probably communicating with my computer or cell phone or charger and the battery was draining fast. Her fob is always in her purse and not draining fast. What I also discovered was that because these fobs are always transmitting a thief can drive by your house and with an amplifier, catch the signal from your fob and open and start your car. You can be sitting in a restaurant and they can do it. Not great if you leave your weapon in the car and even worse if they steal the car. How to prevent this, a Faraday bag that you put the key fob into when you don't need the key immediately. $9 at Amazon and it just may save you from a stolen vehicle. I put my key fob in it and the car doors would not open and the engine would not start. So, as long as the fob is in the bag the amplifier the crooks use won't work as the radio signal is blocked. Well worth the money.

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RottenApple
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby RottenApple » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:31 pm

Actually, the would be thief would have to be within a few feet of the fob. These fobs uses NFC chips with are not much good over 2 feet. To "steal" the signal requires a pair of devices. 1 to capture the signal (which means it has to be within a few feet) and to relay it to device 2 that is within a few feet of the car itself. Obviously this requires 1) access inside your home and 2) at least 2 people. There is no way that someone can "drive by your house" and capture said signal; The distance is just too great. Same with a restaurant. Unless, of course, thief #1 is sitting right behind/beside you.

ETA: I forgot to mention that they couldn't capture the signal and then use it at another time (I.E. - "steal" the code, follow you home, and use it hours later). These codes are randomized and change on a fairly regular basis. Like every 15 minutes. They pretty much have to be used in real-time.

BTW, regarding the fob's battery draining fast, if your phone, tablet, or computer has an NFC chip, then yes. The 2 NFC chips will attempt to communicate with each other. This causes excessive radio use, which uses more battery power, and will drain the battery of both devices faster. The reason you (probably) don't see an impact on the phone/tablet/computer is because they get charged at regular intervals.

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Re: Car theft 101

Postby aero10 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:49 pm

RottenApple wrote:Actually, the would be thief would have to be within a few feet of the fob. These fobs uses NFC chips with are not much good over 2 feet. To "steal" the signal requires a pair of devices. 1 to capture the signal (which means it has to be within a few feet) and to relay it to device 2 that is within a few feet of the car itself. Obviously this requires 1) access inside your home and 2) at least 2 people. There is no way that someone can "drive by your house" and capture said signal; The distance is just too great. Same with a restaurant. Unless, of course, thief #1 is sitting right behind/beside you.

ETA: I forgot to mention that they couldn't capture the signal and then use it at another time (I.E. - "steal" the code, follow you home, and use it hours later). These codes are randomized and change on a fairly regular basis. Like every 15 minutes. They pretty much have to be used in real-time.

BTW, regarding the fob's battery draining fast, if your phone, tablet, or computer has an NFC chip, then yes. The 2 NFC chips will attempt to communicate with each other. This causes excessive radio use, which uses more battery power, and will drain the battery of both devices faster. The reason you (probably) don't see an impact on the phone/tablet/computer is because they get charged at regular intervals.

:iagree:
Every vehicle I've been around with proximity keys you couldn't even unlock the car from the front door with the key on someone else standing at the front of the car.

However, I don't know that the codes are time based. I thought they were sequential. Meaning if they could steal the code from your key, it'd only be good until you used the key on the car again because the key would now be using a code farther down the sequence and all previous codes would be invalid.

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Re: Car theft 101

Postby RottenApple » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:57 pm

aero10 wrote:However, I don't know that the codes are time based. I thought they were sequential. Meaning if they could steal the code from your key, it'd only be good until you used the key on the car again because the key would now be using a code farther down the sequence and all previous codes would be invalid.


I can confirm that they are time based. At least the newer ones. I've been working with this technology for quite a few years and have to keep up. Early versions of NFC were sequential. Now, they test for the proper protocol (which can and usually is unique/semi-unique to each manufacturer), negotiate communication (a handshake, if you will, to determine if 1 device is allowed to talk to the other device), and then passed along the randomized code. All of this occurs in microseconds, of course, with the user not being aware of it.

BTW, this is why the OP's fob needs frequent battery changes. It can't get past stage 1 (protocol test) because the phone and fob aren't talking the same language. But the little buggers keep trying!


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Re: Car theft 101

Postby rotor » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:31 pm

Great info to know. My fob is now in a Faraday bag until I need to use it. What if a fob is next to an rfid device? Will that drain the battery as my fob was right next to one.

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Re: Car theft 101

Postby RottenApple » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:56 pm

rotor wrote:Great info to know. My fob is now in a Faraday bag until I need to use it. What if a fob is next to an rfid device? Will that drain the battery as my fob was right next to one.


Most likely not. Most RFID fobs/keys/devices are passive. They don't broadcast at all except on the receiving end. And even then, they have to be relatively close. Typically 20 centimeters or less. Same as NFC. I carry an RFID tag on my keychain that opens any lock my previous employer programmed. It has zero effect on any of my devices.

BTW, there is a difference between RFID and NFC. With NFC, both devices are active (i.e. - searching for a signal). With RFID, one device is passive (i.e. - no power; like a hotel room key or the device your vet injects into a pet). This is overly simplistic, but should convey the essentials.

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Re: Car theft 101

Postby RogueUSMC » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:41 am

My wife's car is a Ford Explorer that has the pushbutton start. the fob has to be in the car before the car will start.
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby RPBrown » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:12 am

RogueUSMC wrote:My wife's car is a Ford Explorer that has the pushbutton start. the fob has to be in the car before the car will start.


We have an Escape and it to has to be inside before it will start. Also, it has to be within about 18" or so to open the door. I keep mine in my right pocket and open the drivers door with my left hand. If I am turned with my right pocket away from the door (if I were talking to someone) it will not unlock. I have to turn and face the door so it can read the signal.
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby strogg » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:41 am

I'm not a fan of those pushbutton start things on cars. They are way to easy to hack with an amplifier like in the OPs unfortunate case. The Faraday bag is a great way to overcome the issue, although that just negates not needing to "take out your key" to start the car. It's funny (and sounds obvious) that all convenience does is make things less secure. "Smart" locks and keys are the same way. Before, if someone wanted to get through the lock on your front door, they'd need to know how to pick it. Now it's easier. Like with the Kwikset Smartkey, all the the thieves need is a simple masterkey blank that will open all Smartkey locks.


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Re: Car theft 101

Postby TreyHouston » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:38 pm

Dont worry, the chip in the hand will be here soon! ;-)
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby Pariah3j » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:57 am

strogg wrote:I'm not a fan of those pushbutton start things on cars. They are way to easy to hack with an amplifier like in the OPs unfortunate case. The Faraday bag is a great way to overcome the issue, although that just negates not needing to "take out your key" to start the car. It's funny (and sounds obvious) that all convenience does is make things less secure. "Smart" locks and keys are the same way. Before, if someone wanted to get through the lock on your front door, they'd need to know how to pick it. Now it's easier. Like with the Kwikset Smartkey, all the the thieves need is a simple masterkey blank that will open all Smartkey locks.


Traditional key locks are just as unsecured, acquiring the skill to pick most locks doesn't take much. Plus they now have the lock pick 'guns' and there is always the bump key. Security measures have always been about keeping the honest man honest - not the crooks/criminals.
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby The Annoyed Man » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:36 pm

I have a DroneMobile alarm in my car which connects to my phone via the internet. If someone even lightly bumps my car with the alarm armed, it will notify me anywhere I am as long as I have a cellular connection. With the phone app, I can start OR stop the motor remotely, as well as lock/unlock the doors, or arm/disarm the alarm. Plus, it provides me with the vehicle's actual map location at any moment in time, whether running or not. And even if someone is able to somehow bypass the alarm to get in the car and start it, unless the key is in the ignition, as soon as they touch the brake pedal it will kill the motor, and not allow it to restart until the key is inserted. There's a remote key fob that goes with the system too, but I only use it when I'm up close to the car. With the phone app, I can park the car with the A/C controls turned on on hot days (but not actually running), and I can advance start the car to get the A/C running before I approach and get into the car. While it is running, the doors are locked and have to be unlocked with the remote key fob. And again, if you touch the brake pedal after getting in the car, without first sticking the key in the ignition and turning it two clicks to the right, it will kill the motor.

No system is completely fail safe, but this one is pretty good.
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby ELB » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:36 pm

The Annoyed Man wrote: ...
No system is completely fail safe, but this one is pretty good.


How long have you had it? I like the idea of starting my car from afar (and all those other things you listed) but I am wary of an aftermarket product that becomes so integral to the car -- I am afraid if it is installed incorrectly or fails, I am stuck with an unstartable car...
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The Annoyed Man
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby The Annoyed Man » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:58 pm

ELB wrote:
The Annoyed Man wrote: ...
No system is completely fail safe, but this one is pretty good.


How long have you had it? I like the idea of starting my car from afar (and all those other things you listed) but I am wary of an aftermarket product that becomes so integral to the car -- I am afraid if it is installed incorrectly or fails, I am stuck with an unstartable car...

I bought it in April 2015 - a month after I bought my 4Runner. I bought the system through a local automotive accessory store: Tint world. I don't remember what I paid for the unit itself, or the installation, but it seemed reasonable at the time. One problem immediately after installation excepted, I have had no difficulty with the system at all. That problem was that the installer had mistakenly used the wrong wiring harness attachment to wire the unit into my car, and the included inline fuse was too weak to manage my car's electrical system - so the Alarm kept tripping for no reason at all whenever I tried to arm it. i was still able to start the car by disabling the alarm using the remote key fob, and drive it to the Tint World store to get it fixed. - which they did at their cost with a lot of apologies.

Here's the DroneMobile website: https://www.dronemobile.com. There is an ongoing fee for accessing the remote services. I paid for 3 years of the premium service, which was $299.99 - a savings of $131.65 over monthly billing of $11.99/month for 36 months. I will gladly renew for another 3 years when my current plan expires in April 2018.
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Re: Car theft 101

Postby ELB » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:29 am

The Annoyed Man wrote: ...
I bought it in April 2015 - a month after I bought my 4Runner...


Thanks! :tiphat:
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