Math whizzes crack vehicle lock code

The "Keeloq" code is widely used in Fiat, General Motors, Toyota, Volvo, Honda, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Daewoo and Chrysler cars.

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August 22, 2007 22:05
1 minute read.
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Researchers in Israel and Belgium have managed to decipher the vehicle lock security code of the Microchip Technologies company. The "Keeloq" code is widely used in Fiat, General Motors, Toyota, Volvo, Honda, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Daewoo and Chrysler cars. The researchers, from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Leuven in Belgium, broke the code that is used in anti-theft vehicle locks. The mechanism is part of the remote control that locks and unlocks the door and operates the immobilizer and the siren. Every such device has a unique secret key value out of a choice of 18 billion-billion (18 followed by six sets of 000) possibilities. Using 100 computers, mathematicians have tried for decades to crack it, but it remained invulnerable and safe. However, the researchers discovered a technique to identify a vehicle's key code in less than a day. It demands wireless access for about an hour to the remote control (as when it remains in your purse or pants pocket). When the secret code is found, one can operate it with the original remote and drive the car unhampered. "Our attack was checked in depth in program simulations," said the researchers, who included Sebastian Indestig, Eli Beham, Or Dunkelman, Barrett Fernil and Natan Keller.

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