Software engineer reveals how to stop your car being stolen using tin foil

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 09:32 am
Updated Thursday, 19th April 2018, 09:33 am

A driver who had his car broken into by hi-tech thieves believes he has found a nifty trick to stop it happening again - wrapping his keys in tin foil to block the signal.

Kieran Bingham discovered his Seat Leon had been broken into overnight, and £1.50 in change stolen.

But worried his 2016 car could be targeted again by thieves using a ‘relay’ system - where hackers can open a car using the driver’s remote fob while it's in the house.

Normally the range of a key fob is between five and ten metres, but crooks can boost that signal with a gadget sold online for only £30.

Software engineer Kieran said: “Our cars are vulnerable. You buy a new car and you think it is safe but actually you’d be better off with an older car that doesn’t have these remote locks.”

He explained how the hi-tech break in works, and said: “They hold one end near the car and put the other end near to front door, to try and pick up the signal from the keys inside."

This boosts the range of the key fob signal, tricking the car into thinking the fob is nearby so it unlocks the door, when in reality the fob is still inside the owner's house.

“That’s why I’ve wrapped it in foil, to stop the device finding your keys,” Kieran added.

He believes that eight other cars were broken into on the same night in Filton, Bristol, where he lives with wife Keri.

Kieran said: “I was putting my baby son in the car and my wife Keri asked if I had been in the car overnight.”

“Everything was disturbed, luckily there wasn’t anything of high value in the car – they got away with £1.50 in change – so clearly a good night’s work for them.

Kieran posted this image of his foil-wrapped keys with his warning. SWNS

“But we are absolutely meticulous about locking our car because it folds the wing mirrors in.”

He added: “My thinking is someone is going round hacking wireless keys.”

He has now purchased a special “faraday cage pouch” to replace the tinfoil.

The Car Key Signal Blocker Case is available on Amazon for under £10 and provides some protection against signals getting through to wireless keys stored inside.

The second kind of attack exploits a vulnerability in a chip that millions of wireless keys use.

Kieran said: “Although the key codes are different for each car, most cars use the same chip called a HiTag2. There’s a whole range of cars using the same device to run this system.

“If you can push a button to open your central locking there’s a strong chance you’re vulnerable.”