Gone are the days when car thieves could slim-jim a car's door, jam a screwdriver into the ignition lock and turn it with force to start the car, or alternatively cut the ignition wires and hot wire the car, and off they go. In most cases stolen cars are seldom recovered, forcing Insurance Companies to hike their premiums. Lobbying on their part, and government efforts to reduce car theft, resulted that immobilizer and alarm systems started appearing as standard features in most cars. I believer that it's now mandatory for all new cars sold within the European Union to have an electronic engine immobilizer installed.
An immobilizer acts as an anti-theft device that inhibits the car's engine from starting, unless the correct ignition key or additional electronic deactivation device is present. This concept makes hot wiring a car totally futile. If the code received from the key is incorrect or missing, the ECU disables the system until the correct key is placed in the ignition, and or the correct key code is presented, which will allow the car to start. Such electronic devices operate automatically and effectively prevents thieves from starting a car by hot wiring it, thus incentivising auto Insurance Companies to offer lower rates for vehicles equipped with these anti-theft devices. Be that as it may. Are immobilizers "secure" enough? Especially considering that it only reduced car theft by an estimated 40%.
|Transponder chips used in automotive immobilizer systems|
|Turbo Key Decoder can unlock any VAG car in just 3 minutes.|
A VW 3 button remote fob key fitted with a transponder and a miniature electronic circuit board essentially broadcasts an encrypted radio signal to the receiver fitted in the car's steering column, at the exact moment the driver starts the vehicle. If the signal is recognized by the receiver and the handshake is successful, it then responds by sending an encrypted signal to the car's engine control unit (ECU), enabling the car's engine to start. In Volkswagen vehicles, the miniature electronic circuit board in the fob key handles central lock/unlock and alarm activation which normally operates on the 433Mhz (UHF) frequency band, but some models operate on either 315MHz or at 868MHz frequency band.
Volkswagen, Audi and Seat only uses two key blade profiles, namely HU66 and HU49 on both their flat and flip keys, whereas the Skoda uses both HU66 HU49 and SK22 blade profiles. The blades and profiles are visible in the image below which can easily be decoded with a Turbo key decoder or a cheaper Lishi decoder, aka Master Key-Set for VAG for the relevant blade profile.
|Volkswagen. Audi, Seat and Skoda key blade profiles.|
|Megamos Crypto ID48 transponder (glass)|
The following is an actual cryptographic hash (SHA-512)
|Silicon chip transponder|
What this means is that the current 48 bit encryption systems used by most car manufacturers can be easily cracked. The rolling code Hitag2 system used by Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Citroen, Dacia, Fiat, Ford, Lancia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugot and Renault has been crack several years ago and is not secure. A 48 bit system is fractionally secure compared to the 128 bits Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) used for computer data systems which could take more than a 100 years to crack with a Quantum Super Computer. To add doom to gloom, several key decoders and key duplicators are available on the open market and you don't have to be a certified locksmith to be able to buy it, though they is quite expensive.
Once the key is duplicated, the doors can be unlocked and turning on the ignition is just as simple. Starting the vehicles is slightly more intricate but still doable. Silca and JMA supplies systems that can do exactly that in just a few minutes. Optika, Lector and Lector Pro reads the code from the key and generates the required code.
What this means, is that it now easier to steal a car with a manufacturer fitted immobilizer than a car with an anti theft gorilla bar attached to its steering.
|Car Steering Wheel Theft proof Lock - Auto Anti-theft Retractable Lock|