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Modern car technology is like medicine. It gives you a benefit you may or may not need, in exchange for a long list of side effects and “ask so-and-so about this before doing this.” Case in point: these recommendations from USA Today, which say to store car keys in a microwave or fridge to thwart hackers.
The list from USA Today has some great reminders, like the fact that keyless cars can let hackers steal a signal from a key and use it to unlock and steal car. There are all sorts of other ways and reasons to hack a car, as well as ways to control it once it’s hacked. Some of the methods are about $US20 ($27). USA Today’s list also has some simple and logical recommendations to avoid hacking — the funny part is that any of us even need them in the first place.
As car technology gets better, we’re presented with illusion of our lives getting slightly “better” as well — with things like the ability to order doughnuts while driving and pick them up instead of just ordering in the drive-thru, or the countless informational pages on infotainment screens that none of us will ever know how to access or use.
Those benefits are then met with a ton of side effects, like having to block hacker signals or ignoring the problem altogether and risking a hack. Here are some of the ways you can block those signals, from USA Today:
• Stick in the fridge: The free option is to use your refrigerator or freezer. The multiple layers of metal will block your key fob’s signal. Just check with the fob’s manufacturer to make sure freezing your key fob won’t damage it.
• Place in your microwave oven: If you’re not keen to freeze your key fob, you can do the same thing with your microwave oven. The metal frame should work as well as your refrigerator. Here, though, it’s vital that you don’t turn your microwave on, as you could cause serious damage and even start a fire.
• Wrap your key fob in foil: This one is tricky. First, you’ll have to convince your friends that you haven’t fallen for some wacky conspiracy theory. More importantly, wrapping your fob in tin foil may hamper your ability to use it. But the tactic should prevent hackers from stealing your signal, and you can even find a small box and line it with foil, just for storage purposes.
• Get an RFID blocker: This kind of signal stealing isn’t just a problem for car key fobs. Newer passports and other identification contain radio frequency identification chips. Criminals can use a high-powered RFID reader to steal your information from a distance. You don’t need aluminium foil, however. You can invest in RFID-blocking wallets, purposes and passport cases.
Have one of those fancy, new, high-tech, maybe even keyless cars? Scared of hackers? You could wrap the key in foil when you’re not using it, and explain to others that you don’t believe in alien abductions or anything like that. Why would you? Or, you could put it in the fridge. Just ask your manufacturer first if prolonged key cooling is bad. Or you could put the key in the microwave, hoping you don’t accidentally leave it there when you make a freezer burrito — or that your teens don’t get mad enough to put your key on the popcorn cycle.
Another simple fix to this would be to buy a basic car with none of this extra stuff, because basic cars are better anyway. But people always want better, more convenient and more in general, and that sure does come with a few side effects.