High-tech car theft: How to hack a car (CBC Marketplace)

High-tech car theft: How to hack a car (CBC Marketplace)

>>Charslie: We are in the middle of a mystery… Trying to track down a device that could be making these cars, and yours, open to attack by thieves. Our search for that device is about to uncover a surprising new world of cars and crime. Watch this home security video. It’s the middle of the night in Long Beach, California. Two suspects approach two cars parked in someone’s driveway. With little effort, the first man opens the first vehicle and in he goes. The second man approaches the other vehicle, and with a slight pause, he too is in. He seems to have something in his hand. Could that be the mystery device?>>Long Beach police department is baffled by a series of high-tech auto thefts.>>Charslie: Across the continent.>>NBC 5 has learned of a new way thieves are breaking into your cars.>>Charslie: The same scenario and the same results.>>It is crime catching on here in Winnipeg. And we have video of it.>>Charslie: It’s like they have their own keys.>>One guy has something in his hand. Then he walks over to the Toyota. And, bingo, it opens.>>Charslie: So, how do they do it? [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: Our trail leads us to Washington. And to some victims of car theft –>>Show time.>>Charslie: Who happen to be two of our very own colleagues. [ Speaking in French >>Charslie: Christian Latrielle and Marcel Calfat work for Radio-Canada, the French side of CBC. They were on assignment when they found themselves in the middle of a crime story. So take me back. What was happening that day?>>It was the last day of our shoot. So we had checked out of the hotel, packed the van with everything, all our equipment, our personal luggage, and we had one more interview to do. As I was leaving, I just turned around and with the zapper just locked the door. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: A witness tells them soon after they left, a man approached the van and circled it. The man opened the van, no problem, as if he had a key. And within minutes, emptied it.>>And me and the cameraman, we opened the trunk. When he opened the trunk, I couldn’t believe that the material, the equipment wasn’t there anymore. It was like a dream. You know? I went foggy. It took me a few seconds to realize that everything was gone.>>Charslie: This list shows they lost about $30,000 in equipment and personal items. Did police have any theories about what may have happened?>>When the patrol car came, oh yeah, yeah, they probably stole your — the wavelengths or whatever. I said, what are you talking about? I had never heard of this. They said yeah, happens all the time, where they can grab your signal when you’re trying to lock the car and after that, they just open it.>>Charslie: This is something that happened in California.>>That was easier than I thought.>>Charslie: Were you surprised it’s that easy?>>That’s amazing. No hesitation. Just poof, open the door.>>Charslie: Had these suspects also captured signals using them here to unlock these cars? Police aren’t sure. The internet, though, is filled with theories, products and videos that claim to know the trick. Scanners, jammers and amplifiers that interfere with the unlock code your fob sends to your car. But does any of this stuff really work? [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: We’re in California. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: The car theft capital of the U.S. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: To meet a guy who says he can prove it’s possible. Samy Kamkar has a very nice ride. He hasn’t, though, always done very nice things. He once created the fastest spreading computer virus of all time. We’ve hired Samy to show us how he can get around car security. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: And to see if he can pop the locks on this 2016 Cadillac SRX. So Sammy, what is that?>>So, this is a device I call roll jam. It’s proof of concept that I’ve created that demonstrates some of the insecurities with vehicles today. It gives me the ability to unlock a car when it really shouldn’t be unlocking.>>Charslie: What motivated you to come up with this?>>Cars are now pretty much just computers on wheels. So like a computer, they’re vulnerable to various types of attacks. So just interested in what are the attacks that are possible today?>>Charslie: Samy is known as a white hat hacker. He tries to expose flaws in security systems before the bad guys do.>>We’ll place a smaller version that basically interferes with the signal on the vehicle.>>Charslie: Can his device hack his way through the latest antitheft features?>>And this device, this is what picks up the signal. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: First he needs to figure out the car’s frequencies and program the device. After about half an hour, time to put this hacker to the test.>>Hit unlock. Try a few times. Cool. So I’m basically taking that signal. So now that signal is programmed in here. I can disable this. And when I want, I can go up to the car and I can unlock it. So currently we see it’s locked.>>Charslie: Yeah. Can’t get in.>>And then… Just using this.>>Charslie: A device that costs just 30 bucks to build. [ Laughter ]>>Get in. All of the cars that are out basically use the same technology. We’ve known about it for years, and we’ve all thought it’s been relatively secure. But, unfortunately, pretty much all vehicles have this same defect.>>Gill: Face-to-face with the head of cybersecurity at GM.>>Charslie: When you see this, do you get nervous?>>I get nervous any time researchers show anything.>>Gill: Shifting into the fast lane. This is your “Marketplace”. [ ♪♪ ]>>You’ll need to put this on.>>Charslie: Just in case.>>Just in case.>>Gill: Detective Paul LaSalle is taking us to a crime scene as we dig deeper into the world of electronic car theft. [ ♪♪ ]>>Gill: You’ve already seen how bad guys unlock your doors and steal stuff using high-tech devices. Now we’re about to show you how they unlock your engine to make off with your entire car.>>Going into North York. There’s been a number of occasions when stolen cars have been at this warehouse.>>Charslie: LaSalle works for York Regional Police just north of Toronto. In the past two years his auto theft squad has seen a rise in electronic car theft.>>There’s a place, so what we’ll do, we’ll just park right here and you can shoot through the side window if you want. There’s some containers there.>>Charslie: Cars stolen using those electronic devices, you found some in containers just like this.>>Just like this.>>Charslie: More than once police have uncovered stolen cars here ready to be shipped overseas.>>Nissan Quest.>>Charslie: The containers sometimes hold as many as four vehicles. Often with older cars in front, hiding newer models destined for countries like Nigeria. So it sounds like some of the thieves have caught up to technology.>>Absolutely.>>Charslie: The technical security elements.>>Absolutely. If there’s profit, people are going to put the effort in to do it right. So is it getting easier? For some, it is. Because they’ve got the technology to do it.>>Charslie: Technology that’s at work in this home surveillance video LaSalle gave us. One thief enters the SUV through the back door and lets the other one in the front. [ ♪♪ ]>>Gill: That thief is holding some kind of electronic device. It isn’t long before he’s got it started, and it’s another car stolen.>>Basically they’re getting into the brains of the car and getting the car to learn a new key. So the key that they bring to the scene simply after an amount of time that they need to reprogram it, simply just driving away.>>Charslie: You have actually got your hands on some of these electronic devices?>>Yep.>>Charslie: Do you want to show us some?>>Uh, no. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: He won’t show us. So we go looking for some of those devices ourselves down the road in Oakville, Ontario. We’ve heard thieves are using tools meant for legitimate locksmiths. Guys like Nic MacKay who’s agreed to show us how they work. Hey, Nic.>>How’s it going?>>Charslie: Great to meet you. Thanks for helping us out. So, your challenge, these keys are going to stay in my pocket. You got to get in this car, get it going, get outta here.>>Sounds good.>>Charslie: All right. Show us how it’s done. I lock the doors while Nic gets his equipment. Nothing fancy. To get into the car. The big challenge is to get the car going. Ooh. What is that?>>This is the MBB Pro. It’s a key programmer.>>Charslie: This key programmer allows Nic to talk to the car’s computer. So I’ve got the keys, Nic. What are you going to do?>>I have an unprogrammed key. Same thing. See, it doesn’t work the car at all. I’m going to basically tell the car to accept this as a new key.>>Charslie: It’s the same method thieves are using. Plug the programmer into the car’s diagnostic port, find the right make and model, and reset the car’s immobilizer.>>The immobilizer is what stops anyone from just coming in with any key, starting it up and going away.>>Charslie: Nic’s key programmer cost thousands, but there are plenty of cheaper knockoffs on sites like eBay that claim to work the same way. Do you think this kind of stuff could work?>>Yes. Absolutely. It’s actually really disappointing that they’re selling this stuff on eBay, because eBay won’t even sell lock picks as they are classified as burglary tools. Anyone who is on the internet buying key programming software on eBay, more than likely not legitimate.>>Charslie: eBay tells us selling key programmers could violate their policies. They remove the listings we showed them and will investigate others. After about 15 minutes, the car is ready for a new key.>>Going to add this one in. Still in its packaging.>>Charslie: Not all fobs work the same, but they can all be reprogrammed like this.>>I’m going to put this key up here. You’re going to hear a little chirp, and this key is tied to it. There we go. Just like that.>>Charslie: That’s it. Key programmed.>>Yep.>>Charslie: You can start this car?>>Absolutely.>>Charslie: Prove it. Get outta here. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: Now that cars are crammed with so much electronics… Car companies are in a race to keep them secure from thieves.>>It’s a big catchup game. What needs to be done is they need to get on top of it quick.>>Charslie: And from hackers.>>Hopefully this will alert manufacturers to actually resolve this issue now that we understand more about potentially what those attackers were doing. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: It was a GM car that Samy hacked. So we’re crossing into Detroit to find out what General Motors thinks about it. Jeff Massimilla is head of cybersecurity for GM. He says he wants to hear from the hackers. So we show him Samy’s work.>>Can’t get in.>>And then… I just use this.>>I guess what I would say is I would love to work with Samy more on this. The idea of that attack is pretty interesting. Maybe not a real-world type of activity, but could be applied in a real-world way which is why we need to get out in front of that stuff.>>Charslie: When you see this, do you get nervous?>>I get nervous any time researchers show anything. Researchers are very smart. In cybersecurity it’s a very interesting thing. Cybersecurity experts have to be right a hundred percent of the time. Researchers or attackers have to be right once. It’s a challenge every industry faces.>>Charslie: One of the police officer we had worked with, he was telling us if thieves can figure out a way to make money stealing cars, they’re going to do it pretty quick. The automotive industry in order to fix it, it’s going to cost them money so it could take them a little longer. What do you make of that?>>Safety and security of our customers are the highest priority. This is top of mind for General Motors. So I don’t agree with that statement at the most principled level from our perspective of the safety and security of our customers is our highest priority.>>Charslie: GM is the first big car company to openly invite hackers to find flaws in its vehicles. Massimilla says they’ve already fixed some things as a result. How worried should car owners be about the threat of cyberattacks?>>Car owners should know that their vehicles are safe. That’s the number one most important thing. And absolutely everything like this, anything that we see, we learn more about it and we address it. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charslie: If you’re not convinced, there are steps you can take in the meantime. And none of them are that high-tech. Like a lock for your steering wheel, and a lock for your diagnostic port. Anything that will slow a thief down.>>Time is risk. And risk is something they don’t want to do.>>Charslie: And, even better, listen to some guys who have been there. So, what lesson did you learn from that?>>Can we show you?>>Charslie: Sure. Show me.>>You want to lock your car, you press that magic button.>>Press the button. No more signal.>>And you close the door.>>Just like that. Never again with the fob.>>Gill: Learn how to outsmart car thieves and share your tips at facebook.com/cbcmarketplace.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. They may use the door button to lock it but they have to use their file to unlock it unless they're is a key port on the door which mini manufacturers have deleted in manufacturing.

  2. If this dude needs 1/2 hr to hack this car, his system is not what we need to worry about, there are guys that can collect signals a lot quicker, those are the systems we need to worry about!

  3. Let's be serious, Car companies don't want to stop Car theft, they get to sell another Car every time one is stolen. Why would they want to stop that ? Maybe the Insurance Companies care but not the Manufacture.

  4. Watever
    I am going to make car jacking a history. I just need certification from a college here in Canada.

  5. Time to go old school again, and use a key. FOBs are based on wavelength frequency. Why on earth would you show this hack, breaking into cars on national news?! I guess you don't mind propagating, what you report against. You are making the problem worse…good job.

  6. I had a 2003 mustang 5s-peed manual for 14 years. I would leave it unlocked everywhere . the factory alarm made it so you had to relock then unlock the car again with the key remote fob before you could start the car. Once a guy tried to take it but as soon as he saw it was a manual he jumped right back out, it was caught on camera.

  7. My ? car is all manual with tripple lock with hand break lock system by key but not computerized. As well as string wheels can remove too ?..
    If thief steal my car then he will be his most worst bad nightmare of his life ???

  8. Just a few things I do.
    I have a dash cam
    I have a "club" that I lock unto my steering wheel when I park the car.
    I rarely use the F.O.B. to lock and unlock my car. I do it manually.
    I try to park in high trafficked areas.
    When parking in a parking garage I like to park near the entrance, exit, stairwell, or elevators and also pay attention to where the security cameras are.
    In outside parking lots, I park away from the pack and at night I park under a flood light.
    As I am walking away or to my car I have situational awareness and pay attention to who and what is around my car and who is walking around me.
    I support local law enforcement and have stickers showing my support displayed on my car that are easily visible. Those stickers combined with the steering wheel club, my dash-cam, and that I keep my car looking nice….(meaning I care about it) I believe would make a would be thief think twice about stealing my car…….who knows what else I might have installed on that car and who I may know.

    So far I've had no problems just doing those simple and inexpensive habits.

  9. Real world, they want a car to fill an order, they locate, observe, then back up to it with a flatbed and winch it on after pouring some oil on the tires.
    Then reprogram, repaint and substitute numbers from another state. Easy, done every day.

  10. Proximity vehicles are being stolen using the relay method.
    Key programming tools take time to program a key.
    Relays utilize the original key to start the vehicle in less than a minute.
    Investigators need to do their homework!!

  11. It's easy. One method is a key tag cracker. Second method is a code grabber. Third and most available method is a phenomenon called "cross keying" my real world advice to all people. Never ever leave anything you value in your car. It's the easiest way to lose your stuff. This news story is focused on code grabbers.. They are really easy to make. I won't say how because that's irresponsible. Just know the technology is real and the auto industry is moving very slow to do anything about it because it's something they don't want to pay for. Even if it only takes one dollar in upgrades to their software or even hardware they aren't trying to pay because it's that dollar time a few million cars. Yeah it adds up. They are in Denial. They don't want to know about this because consumers are already making lots of noise about it. Good luck and stop leaving valuables in your car.

  12. Another NSA and british security program got outside the walls, and then used to scam and steal for millions, nice done, and worst thing is you can buy it on the net.

  13. General motor just care about how much profit they can make and how they can keep the investor happy hahaha safety of the customers that is optional.. the safety rating of the new Mustang says it all.

  14. I have a Jeep Liberty, that can be locked by pressing the door lock button before closing the door and without using the FOB.
    However with my 2014 Chevy Equinox LTZ, this is not an option. The only way to lock it is with the FOB or remotely through the OnStar App, if the interior door lock button is pressed with the door open it will lock and then unlock before one can close the door. Doors will only remained locked after the interior lock button is pressed if the lock button is pressed when the door is closed (someone in the car).
    You should have tried to get the GM cyber security guy to talk about the other possibilities that exist once your car has been hack, for those possibilities are far more serious than the thief of ones car or contents.



  17. Almost all modern car makers are to blame. They introduced all this keyless entry stuff. Thieves now have gadgets to open and steal most luxury brands.

  18. Code grabbers used to be eveywhere, designed to like pop cans. It snatches the car or garage door opener

  19. Just image the guys stealing the car…watching this video…and commenting …yeah i did that…i mean can you imagine

  20. This problem may be new but the idea/theory definitely is not. Car manufacturers knew about this weakness in the system but refuses to address it because (1) it would mean less profit, and (2) its not as widespread as yet, meaning that there is no incentive to do so.

  21. The last tip is useless, at least to my Nissan pick up. I tried it several times today and whenever I try the passenger doors, it unlocks all 4 doors. So I'm gonna keep using my key fob

  22. Hello most of our electronic stuff put on the new cars is made overseas, so of course they would know how to work around it's short comings

  23. $30 to build and $400 to replace a key fob set. You gotta love technology. Never use your key fob to lock your car.

  24. Yet the corrupt liberal justice system allows this to happen by not allowing the cops to take action and arrest these criminals, or the cops just don’t want to be bothered. It happens daily where I live and I’m sure not going to live here much longer

  25. HACK RF ONE would be the device used to steal these modern day cars.
    I work for an insurance company and often have to take back cars, when the finance deal stops, and/or the customer stops paying for it.
    With the HackRF One, once I locate the car, I can be in and driving away within 60 seconds, and 40 of those seconds is tracing the radio frequency.
    Once you have the correct RF, you simply open the door and start the car with the electronic start, just as if it was your own car.

  26. They are recording the signal sent by the remote to the vehicle and duplicating it (just as the driver signals with a key fab to open it.) Thieves should just be shot.

  27. To defeat this device, your fob should send a signal to the car. the car then sends a random message back. The fob encryts it and sends it back. If someone captures any message, it does them no good.

  28. Bluetooth or cellphone switch after recording there car alarm remote with program play back. open car door and shut down alarm as well as hack there Computer DS the program.

  29. lo wow is this waaay behind the actual game … iv got an old (as fark) HP ipaq palmtop and some clever guy wrote code for that old bad boy that does exactly this (and has been for oh i dont know TEN YEARS) Nothing new here … want to be secure ! GO ANALOGUE steering wheel lock or wheel lock

  30. You can just wait for someone to lock their car and record the radio frequency and code then wait for the person to leave and replay the recorded code and your in. Although that only works on older car as modern Oners have a self changing code so only works once. You need some gadgetry to do this though. But much older cars that were the first to use the remotes some apparently would work with something as basic as a tape record er

  31. There called code scanners , anyone that wants to be a car thief it's like taking candy from a baby , this is the teck world boys and girls , information on this is available , a bit scary , not my bag, just remember ur are at one point going to be a victim, protect yourself, the cops only make a report will some one rips u off

  32. Its like stealing ur information off ur now required chip bank card if u use it at any retail store u just put ur information on the net for these types of theives

  33. Who leaves that kind of equipment in a car unattended? Seriously. I never even leave an empty bottle because in my town that can end up in a broken window.

  34. It’s why I have a garage and my cars are inside. The Nigerian prince running out of victims? Electronic lock picker, GM guy shits pants!

  35. the new keyless cars are easy to steel, one main key that u just keep in your pocket and push button in car and it starts, no problem!!

  36. That's messed up! You think Devon ebays CEO cares? It's about the money to that overpaid CEO. I like how macguver used to tell you how to do stuff like stealing cars.

  37. 1990 at a high end hotel in Mill Valley, I was looking out the window and saw a car with 4 men/thugs in it cruise through the parking lot and as they got to the other end I noticed all the cars in their wake had their trunks opened.This is 3am no one around. I know your already wondering why I didn't call the cops, cause this took place in about three minutes and remember I didn't even know what I was looking at, well until daylight .So I would just say they sure are telling this a bit late, I mean the horses are already out of the barn, right ? Well, better late than never.Know that your car is not locked, ever.

  38. NOT ALL PEOPLE LOOKING FOR KEY PROGRAMMERS ON EBAY/ONLINE ARE "NOT LEGIT"! Some are just looking to save 100s or 1000s at a repair shop by doing it themselves. I've purchased two model specific programmers for one of my cars and a friends. We saved a lot of $$$$ and weren't looking to steal anything! It sounds more like he wants them removed from Ebay as it might prevent someone using his service.

  39. the one who speaks for general motors saying that car owners should feel safe he says it so he does not loose sales….

    on the contrary cars owners should be worry

  40. Lousy system that reuses the same code. Even a garage door opener should be better than that although many mfg use cheap old stuff.

  41. I love how they show exactly what you need to build this… looks like an arduino 0, an RC transmitter/receiver, a breadboard, some jumper wires and a button or two. Time to go try and hack my car!

  42. Great what a evil world ,loves to show this or hoards of web info on most stolen cars, BUT TRY TO FIND INFO ON LEAST STOLEN CARS !! its like asking to meet god..that would really help people and insurance companys too..oh but thats to simple and kind for the screwed up web and world..SHAME

  43. the GM guy or any car manufacturer are such liars…. its all about money for them, if they want to fix this problem, they can….

  44. My neighbor across the street got his new truck stolen. (YAY! He was always blocking my driveway!) He had the premium anti-theft system. They never found the truck.

  45. Since a car is a driving computer why not add firewall. antivirus, antimalware and password protection to your vehicle when you purchase the car. When you purchase a used car you should be able to "factory reset" the vehicle's computer and install your protection.

  46. To help fix this problem is that cars need to use not only electronic lock but also the physical high security keys to enter on another way also is designing (not mentioned as in research this minute) lock unlock devises where needs narrow more accurate position codes not only at the door locks but also at start up. this can be done as this would then be a three way security. harder to bust with infinite codes.

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