Car theft ring used software to steal hundreds of vehicles without the physical key fob


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Feb 21, 2013
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Organised crime group used fraudulent software to duplicate keys and steal cars, says law enforcement agencies.

Law enforcement in France, Latvia and Spain have arrested 31 suspects believed to be part a group that used software to steal vehicles without using the physical key fob.

According to the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), the suspects built or used software that duplicated certain models' ignition keys and which was promoted online as an automotive diagnostic tool.

"The criminals targeted keyless vehicles from two French car manufacturers. A fraudulent tool – marketed as an automotive diagnostic solution, was used to replace the original software of the vehicles, allowing the doors to be opened and the ignition to be started without the actual key fob," said Europol.

"The perpetrators of the scam kept updating and adapting their software, to counteract the measures implemented by companies to reinforce the security of their vehicles," Eurojust noted.

On October 10, the 31 suspects were arrested in France, including the managers of the firm that allegedly built the software. Authorities searched 22 locations in France, Spain, and Latvia. They also seized €100 million, 12 bank accounts, real estate, three luxury cars and the website domain.

The French Gendarmerie's Cybercrime Centre (C3N) opened the case at Eurojust in September 2022 while Europol says it supported the investigation since March 2022.

Neither agency has named the two French car manufacturers. Eurojust was unable to provide further information about the hacks or affected car manufacturers, and ZDNet has asked Europol for more information.

The hack does sound different to more recent relay attacks where thieves capture the radio signal between the key fob and the vehicle. UK law enforcement warned of a spike in keyless car theft last year. Authorities said to prevent relay attacks, luxury car owners should store their key fobs in metal tins or protective pouches.

Car theft ring used software to steal hundreds of vehicles without the physical key fob, say police
Seen some gadget on the internet called flipper zero that can pickup car keys frequencies and can hack loads of things awell
Yeah their all over tiktok not sure how good they are or if they actually work. I'm still surprised why cars removed the old fashioned physical key.

We know that these can be done as well but surely a key, pin thumb print etc combo might make it that bit harder for the thief.

I'm a believer that everything is hackable but it's all about delaying the wannabe thief making his operation far longer and noisier.

There's alot to be said about having a sh#t car in today's day and age.

You'd have to be on crystal meth to take mine