$25,000 'Game Boy' gadgets used to steal cars by imitating key fob signals

midian182

Posts: 5,889   +48
Staff member
In a nutshell: If you see a shady character playing with a Game Boy near your car, beware: they might be a thief. Rather than being one of the beloved retro consoles, the device is used to trick a car into thinking it’s a key fob, allowing the user to unlock and start the vehicle.

Keyless entry and ignition systems may be convenient, but they offer criminals a high-tech way of stealing cars. One popular method is the relay box technique, which involves holding one box to the wall of a house so it can pick up the signal from an owner’s key fob. This is transmitted to a second box that is held close to the vehicle. Once a car detects the signal from the second box, its sensors are tricked into believing the key fob is present.

With one of these devices, which look a lot like a Game Boy, there’s no need to relay a signal from a nearby fob. As per the Daily Mail, they record the car’s data and act as a responder that the vehicle recognizes as an authorized proximity remote. The car will then open and start as if the user had a valid key fob.

A Bulgarian firm called SOS Auto Keys sells the gadgets under the promise of being the “most advanced locksmith tool.” The company does warn that the device should not be used by anyone with “unlawful intentions,” which should definitely dissuade hardened criminals.

One piece of good news for those worried about their vehicles is that the gadgets are costly: £20,000 (around $25,000).

“As fast as car technology evolves, criminals are working just as hard to cheat these systems. What is most worrying is that something sold decades ago has been repurposed to help thieves. With plenty of old gadgets collecting dust, some will tinker with them in the hope they can unlock a car,” said Jack Cousens, of UK motoring association AA.

“Thieves have leveled up from playing Grand Theft Auto on a console to using the console to commit Grand Theft Auto.”

Image credits: Daily Mail and tuaindeed

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,243   +5,646
I've seen a couple of apps for under $100 that claim to do the same and a couple of kids got busted in Nashville for using one of them .....
 

pmshah

Posts: 115   +4
$20,000 is cheap if it can get you luxury car
The question is what you will get from the "chop-shop" or smuggler for that luxury car.

I remember early days of mobile phones with default Bluetooth configuration activated to accept any and every pairing request without confirmation from the owner. Your phone would get infected simply by walking past the store having the removal tools. Ever since I have been wary of ALL such remote control gizmos and avoid them like plague. I was happy with card in which you could not lock your self out with the key in ignition, no GPS to drown you in a lake or take you right on to the runway !!!
 
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quadibloc

Posts: 181   +104
And here I expected remote control car keys to use a cryptographic method of communicating with the car that would both be extremely difficult to crack, and to be designed to thwart replay attacks. But there would still be a way for the manufacturer of the car to unlock it if the user loses his key.
 

0dium

Posts: 79   +65
The question is what you will get from the "chop-shop" or smuggler for that luxury car.

I remember early days of mobile phones with default Bluetooth configuration activated to accept any and every pairing request without confirmation from the owner. Your phone would get infected simply by walking past the store having the removal tools.
Only if you had a smartphone. Once in a public transport an infected smartphone started to send sys files to my phone. The only thing they did - made me laugh.
 

Jerry in WA

Posts: 84   +78
LOL I have one of those cheap retros in the bathroom for 5 minute entertainment. The exact same case the hackers are using. I wonder if stealing cars is one of the "500-in-1" games?

These aren't really repurposed "gameboys". These are cheap, emulator-on-a-chip units. The Bulgarian company chose these because they cost $12. The internals tossed out, maybe the 320x240 screen is re-used.
 
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zamroni111

Posts: 37   +16
And here I expected remote control car keys to use a cryptographic method of communicating with the car that would both be extremely difficult to crack, and to be designed to thwart replay attacks. But there would still be a way for the manufacturer of the car to unlock it if the user loses his key.
The device will still works because it relays exact signal between the key and the car