Modern GSM Car Alarm Security Hole Lets Evildoers To Control Your Car
If you think that a pretty expensive GSM compatible car alarm will make your car 100% safe from any kind of car thieves and hijackers, and will also provide you lots of options to control your vehicle, you're probably wrong. Of course, your smartphone or a simple cell phone will work as a car alarm remote control, but simply remember that those modern smartphones are rather vulnerable to various hacks and exploits.
That's why it is not the best idea to use your mobile gadget as a car alarm remote control. But GSM car alarm will though provide a couple of benefits. First of all it will make all those code grabbing devices, that are used for vehicle hijacking totally useless. Also you'll be able to start the engine remotely, which is rather convenient if your car is parked outdoors in winter.
But, there are a couple of rather old and widely known ways to surpass those GSM car alarms. First and one of the most effective ones are the device that are able to spoof cell towers. Those were recently used by authorities in US for tracking. To make it short – those are device that pretend to be a cell tower and make any GSM device to think that they are connected to a cell tower, while all their traffic goes through that gadget. Using that gadget will compromise GSM car alarm.
Another point you should consider while dealing with that kind of alarms is that, that you won't be able to use GSM blockers, and if someone will use cell phone signal blockers of any kind around you, that alarm will be useless too. No one will be able to lock, or unlock it. But, looking at the recent research of Don Bailey and Matthew Solnic that feature may be considered as a decent security measure.
We will begin with the device that was developed recently, it is able to hack codes of GSM alarms by cracking their encryption algorithms. Security specialists calculated that such a device may be built with only 5000 dollars. But now that situation gets even worse. We've already mentioned Don Bailey and Matthew Solnic, they have discovered a vulnerability in the very GSM communications protocol.
Even the latest GSM alarms with two-way communications and dialog codes are exposed to that vulnerability. Evildoers that have some knowledge in technology and engineering are able to access a vehicle with such an alarm, and even start an engine remotely. The only thing needed to be done is sending a specific text message to alarm with the code of the desired operation. The same will also work for various smartphone apps for car remote control. Don Bailey and Matthew Solnic ran lots of tests to discover that vulnerability.
“We've simply connected a notebook to a GSM network, which supports M2M (Machine-to-Machine) technology. That system lets devices to share data over the GSM network. So, while connected to that network we've gained the ability to communicate with car alarms, that are connected to the same GSM networks. We've discovered an opportunity to send them such commands as “disarm the alarm” and “start the engine”. So we've got an unlimited access to the vehicle”, - says Matthew Solnic, cyber security expert.
The problem here is that it is possible to use that method for hacking not only car alarms, but other device that are using GSM network. Though, some car alarms can resist such a hack, because they use secure data transmission channels. “Our goal is to make major manufacturers check their technologies and improve their alarms.”, - Don Bailey says. They have provided all the information they have gathered to major alarm manufacturers and we hope that they will take some measures. Anyway, it is really good that such a hack was discovered by the people, who do not intent to use and exploit it.
You should know, that by hacking that alarm evildoers will be able not only to control the car, but to access GPS data, so they will probably be able to find out where the car owner lives. We've already wrote about such crimes, where GPS navigator's data led to such crimes. In that case we suppose that GSM/GPS signal blocker will be suitable defensive measure, until car alarm manufacturers won't improve their devices.