Originally Posted by Antistatic12
The issue I have is how can a handheld device do it in such a small amount of time, if in fact it is somehow bruteforcing.
It could be bruteforcing. But you're right, that would take time. Though, maybe that explains why they pace around the car awhile before getting in?
But, I bet it's more simple than that. I bet the dude is standing nearby, or around the corner when the car owner locks the car and leaves, and the mystery device is in 'listen' mode to capture the frequency they need. Then when the owner walks away.... unlock.
I see no reason why that wouldn't work, and I can't believe nobody's thought of that before either...
I've talked about this before, the computer systems in cars these days have NO security to speak of. The car makers never bothered to add any, because there's no connectivity for a potential attacker to exploit. But those days are changing, and the way auto-makers think about security is very much going to have to change. The remote signals are no different. It's just a simple radio transmitter, no different than some TV remote controls. Anyone that can hit the right frequency can open the doors. They're going to need to change that completely in order to prevent this kind of attack. The transmitter will need to send an encrypted signal, that should protect against this. Kinda like Wi-Fi, even knowing the frequency isn't enough to break in.
But for that to work, there will need to be a smarter chip in those remotes, and that will probably do bad things to their battery life... damn criminals.