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This is how thieves easily steal luxury Tesla models

This is how thieves easily steal luxury Tesla models

Relay attacks allow thieves to operate cars without the owner present. (wired video capture)

Car thefts have increased in recent years due to several factors, such as the TikTok app revealing how easy it is to steal some vehicles, and advances in keyless entry technology. A recent report from Wired He highlighted how ultra-wide keyless entry systems, adopted by high-end cars such as the Tesla Model 3, did not reduce these thefts.

Researchers from GoGoBytean automotive cybersecurity company based in Beijingthey showed Wired Which can carry out a relay attack against the latter Model 3. Using less than $100 worth of radio equipment, they were able to unlock the car instantly, despite the technological upgrade.

John LeeFounder GoGoByte “It’s a warning to the public: just enabling ultra-wideband technology doesn’t mean your car won’t be stolen,” said an investigator with experience in car hacking.

Follow up attacks It occurs when a thief is able to pick up the car key’s signal and broadcast it over a greater distance, allowing him to unlock the car and start it without needing the owner’s physical presence.

Although Tesla integrated a broadband radio system to prevent these types of attacks, it appears that it did not work as expected. According to the report, investigators were able to open, operate, and steal a Model 3 from a distance of up to 4.5 meters from where the key was located.

In theory, this technology should have allowed for more precise measurements between the car and the key to prevent theft. Despite the 2020 patent of Tesla It promised greater safety through the application of this technology, but the results were not as expected.

The increase in relay attacks on cars like the Tesla Model 3 highlights the need for more robust methods to protect high-end vehicles (Reuters/Mike Blake)

According to the explanation provided by the company following GoGoByte’s findings, “this behavior is expected, as we are currently working to improve the reliability of ultra-wideband technology.”

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he Tesla keyless entry system It also controls the vehicle’s immobilizer function, designed to prevent theft. However, a hacker can start the car and drive it within seconds unless the owner enables this optional option PIN to the drive, which requires entering a four-digit code before starting the car. Lee stressed the importance of this optional safeguard: “Using relay attacks is still like old times for thieves.”

Relay attacks It was a modern, low-cost technique for stealing many models of vehicles. The principle is simple: a radio near the car sends the signal from the real key, which may be tens or hundreds of meters away.

This method allows thieves to steal cars effortlessly while their owners are sleeping at home or in a café, which is the situation we witnessed Yuqiao YangResearcher GoGoByte: “They could have a relay and then their car could be driven.”

quartz He pointed out that to prevent these attacks, car owners are advised to keep the keys inside Faraday bags, which block radio signals, or even in the refrigerator. However, researchers believe that manufacturers should develop keyless entry systems that accurately measure the time between the signal sent by the key and its reception by the vehicle. In this line, Tesla It claimed in 2020 that its new technology based on measuring flight time would be immune to relay attacks.

The Tesla Model 3, despite its very extensive technology, has not reduced thefts (Reuters/Peter Chibura)

Joseph RodriguezResearcher IOActivewho previously demonstrated relay attacks against the tech giant’s vehicles, commented: “My understanding is that it may take some time to find a point where relay attacks can be prevented without affecting the user experience.”

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Although this technology has not yet been fully applied in terms of vehicle safety, the company is leading Elon Musk You can use OTA software updates to resolve this issue.

In addition to TeslaHowever, other automakers that have also adopted broadband communications technology remain vulnerable to relay attacks. Meanwhile, some studies suggest that company cars are less likely to be stolen due to GPS connectivity, which allows owners to track their cars in real time.