An automobile is one of life’s most substantial investments. It gets you to work, transports the kids to sports practice, hauls your weekly groceries, and may even reflect a bit of your personal style.
So it makes sense that you’d want to keep that investment safe and sound. In fact, over the years, motorists have researched an endless array of tips, tricks and devices designed to safeguard one’s prized set of wheels.
Remember The Club, for instance? This 1990-era visual deterrent locked onto your steering wheel, alerting would-be thieves that attempting to steal your ride would involve some extra time and effort.
Certainly, more recent options have expanded in complexity with advancing technology. LoJack, for example, is a radio transceiver-based tracking system whose name was devised as a clever contrast to the word “hijack.”
Of course, cyberhacking has become an ever-present threat. So modern-day drivers now need to consider the humble car fob as a prime means of auto access, too.
But before you panic, realize that one potentially protective measure sounds pretty darn old-fashioned. And it might be as close as your kitchen pantry.
Moshe Shlisel is CEO of GuardKnox Cyber Technologies. As an Israeli Air Force veteran, he’s helped develop cyber protection for everything from missile defense systems to weaponized fighter jets.
How does Shlisel store his own key fob at home? He places it in a metal can — then, for good measure, he wraps a piece of regular aluminum foil around it.
Because here’s the thing: Your car is constantly sitting there, quietly receptive, as it awaits a start signal from your fob. According to USA Today, there are devices available that can intensify this signal, and would-be robbers can easily buy them.
This means that when your fob is stored somewhere without adequate shielding, crooks can boost or copy the code to access your automobile. According to cybersecurity experts like Shlisel and others, that makes an unprotected fob on a counter, in a purse, or in a pocket akin to a sitting duck.
Holly Hubert is a former FBI agent and cybersecurity expert. She concedes that consumers are hard-pressed to keep up with today’s cyber threat because it’s “so dynamic and ever-changing.”
Hubert currently serves as CEO of GlobalSecurityIQ, based in Buffalo, New York. She describes aluminum foil as “not ideal,” but also “the most inexpensive way” to help protect your car fob.
For a few extra bucks, Hubert recommends a shielding product that resembles a compact sandwich bag made of foil. Named after the scientist who discovered how to block electromagnetic fields, this “Faraday bag” is available for purchase online.
Why can’t you simply stuff your fob into a credit card holder? Shlisel explains that these aren’t a good solution, “because they’re essentially a net rather than a wall.”
If fob signals are so easy to capture and manipulate, you might be wondering why car companies aren’t taking the matter seriously. The good news is, they are.
In fact, Shlisel himself is already meeting with numerous auto manufacturers, collaborating with expert engineers to address this rapidly evolving threat. But in the meantime, he recommends keeping your fob in an aluminum-wrapped tin can at home — and says that in a purse or pocket, “just aluminum foil will do the job.”
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