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A smart car alarm should make it harder to steal a vehicle. However, a new study shows that in some cases, the underlying technology actually makes things easier. That is because of the way in which the apps that allow the user to unlock a car communicate with the vehicles.

This is the conclusion of a study published by Pen Test Partners last Friday. A number of smart car alarms from third parties were examined. From two companies it appeared that the car alarms were very easy to hack. These are the alarms from Viper, an American brand of Directed Electronics, and Pandora Car Alarm, a Russian company called Experimental Engineering Factory.

Steal a car

The vulnerabilities arise from the way in which the systems of both companies use apps to communicate with the alarms. The researchers from Pen Test Partners found that the vulnerabilities were so great that it is not only easy to steal a car, but also potentially dangerous situations occur.

The apps were so poorly secured that the researchers could easily create a new password for the car alarms. Then they could start the hacked alarm. This made it possible to disable this completely and remove the lock from the vehicle. In addition, the researchers were able to switch on the engine and drive off.

Not only was stealing a car relatively easy, it also turned out that the vulnerabilities can lead to potentially very dangerous situations. It turned out to be possible to switch off the engine of a moving vehicle. As a result, in theory, malicious parties could cause accidents. Finally, it was possible for the researchers to determine the exact location of a vehicle.

Both companies have now solved the vulnerabilities, but drivers who have not yet installed the software update are left with the vulnerabilities. There are probably quite a few of them, because according to the researchers of Pen Test Partners, there are more than three million vehicles with the relevant systems worldwide.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.