A key vulnerability has recently been discovered and affects the keyless entry system of some 100 million Volkswagens. Thieves can exploit this flaw to wirelessly unlock a vehicle; almost every car sold by Volkswagen group during the past two decades is on the victim list.
This vulnerability was uncovered by Flavio Garcia and his team. Garcia is a computer scientist from University of Birmingham. Prior to this discovery, he has been known for probing another VW’s major security flaw last year.
The hack requires no sophisticated technique, and it is difficult for drivers to find out that their vehicle security has been compromised. Hackers can use cheap and easily attainable equipment like a radio device to intercept signals from a victim’s key fob, which is later employed to copy the key. “Since they are executed solely via the wireless interface, with at least the range of the original remote control (i.e. a few dozens of meters), and leave no physical trace, they pose a severe threat in practice.” says Garcia.
Volkswagen has acknowledged this security issue, yet has not yet made any statement until now. However, considering the slow software development cycle in the vehicle manufacturing industry, fixing this issue soon will not be easy for the car company.
So, if your vehicle is on the affected list, what can you do? Security researchers offer the suggestion – do not leave anything valuable in your car. Or you can even consider giving up the remote unlock fob and instead, replacing it with the traditional and mechanical way to open and lock your car.