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Relay Attacks

2nd July 2024

Nobody likes to think about car theft, but if you do, you may imagine a thief smashing your car windows or using a crowbar to prise open the door. In reality, the vast majority of vehicle thefts these days are carried out using much more sophisticated methods. 

Relay technology allows thieves to intercept the signal from a key, transfer it to a portable device, and unlock a stolen vehicle in minutes. We’ll explore how relay attacks work and provide some essential tips on protecting your car from theft. 

How do relay attacks work?

Modern cars often have keyless entry systems, which allow drivers to open and start their vehicle without physically pressing a button or turning a key, as long as the fob is nearby. While this feature provides added conveniences, it has also introduced a security vulnerability that thieves have learned to exploit. 

A relay attack typically involves two thieves working together. One stands by the target vehicle while the other waits close to the house with a device that can pick up the key fob's signal. Once the key frequency has been detected, this signal is relayed to another device held near the vehicle, tricking the car into thinking the key is nearby, automatically unlocking the vehicle doors, and allowing the thieves to start the engine. 

These attacks typically occur at night in residential areas where cars are parked near the house. However, there are security precautions you can take to protect your vehicle from relay attacks. 

How to protect your vehicle from relay attacks

We have highlighted the top safety precautions to prevent relay attacks and protect your vehicle from theft. 

  1. Keep keys out of sight. It’s tempting to throw your keys down in the hallway or on the kitchen counter, but doing so means thieves can easily intercept the signal or, failing that, break in and swipe them.
  2. Store your car keys in a Faraday wallet. A Faraday wallet is essentially a metal cage that blocks your car key signal so thieves can’t clone it and steal your pride and joy.
  3. Consider a steering wheel lock or wheel clamp. Good quality steering wheel locks and wheel clamps are made of heavy-duty steel and are great visual and physical theft deterrents.
  4. Install an immobiliser. Immobilisers, like the Ghost Immobiliser 2, prevent people from starting your car engine without entering a code or using a Driver ID tag, so even if thieves get into your car, they’ll be sitting ducks.
  5. Invest in a GPS tracking device. While it may not stop the theft, a GPS tracking device significantly increases the chances of police recovering and returning your vehicle. 

At Safe & Sound, we specialise in comprehensive vehicle security solutions designed to combat all types of theft, including relay attacks. 

We offer a range of Thatcham-approved S7 and S5 trackers, and for the ultimate protection, we also provide immobilisers, such as the Ghost Immobiliser 2. Combining a tracker with an immobiliser prevents potential attacks and aids with vehicle recovery in the unlikely event that a thief manages to steal your car. Plus, most of our products come with a complimentary Faraday pouch to store your car keys. 

For vehicle security solutions you can rely on, trust Safe & Sound.

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