A New Wireless Hack Can Unlock Almost Every Volkswagen Sold Since 1995

Volkswagen isn’t having the best of times. Tens of millions of vehicles sold by Volkswagen AG over the past 20 years are vulnerable to theft because keyless entry systems can be hacked using cheap technical devices, reports Wired (alternate source). Security experts of the University of Birmingham were able to clone VW remote keyless entry controls by eavesdropping nearby when drivers press their key fobs to open or lock up their cars. ArsTechnica reports: The first affects almost every car Volkswagen has sold since 1995, with only the latest Golf-based models in the clear. Led by Flavio Garcia at the University of Birmingham in the UK, the group of hackers reverse-engineered an undisclosed Volkswagen component to extract a cryptographic key value that is common to many of the company’s vehicles. Alone, the value won’t do anything, but when combined with the unique value encoded on an individual vehicle’s remote key fob — obtained with a little electronic eavesdropping, say — you have a functional clone that will lock or unlock that car. VW has apparently acknowledged the vulnerability, and Greenberg (writer at Wired) notes that the company uses a number of different shared values, stored on different components. The second affects many more makes, “including Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, and Peugeot,” according to Greenberg. It exploits a much older cryptographic scheme used in key fobs called HiTag2. Again it requires some eavesdropping to capture a series of codes sent out by a remote key fob. Once a few codes had been gathered, they were able to crack the encryption scheme in under a minute.


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