It’s been known for a while now that it is possible to break into cars using simple wireless attacks that involve jamming of the car keyfob frequency. Sammy Kamkars “rolljam” is one such example that can be built with a cheap Arduino and RF transceiver chip. One way to secure yourself against wireless attacks like this is to run a jammer detector.
A jammer detector is quite simple in theory – just continuously measure the signal strength at the car keyfob frequency and notify the user if a strong continuous signal is detected. Over on his blog author mikeh69 has posted about his work in creating a wireless jammer detector out of a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR dongle. He uses a Python script and some C code that he developed to create a tool that displays the signal strength on an onscreen bar graph and also conveys signal strength information via audio tones. He writes that with a pair of earphones and battery pack you can use the system while walking around searching for the source of a jammer.
Mikeh69’s post goes into further detail about installing the software and required dependencies. He also writes that in the future he wants to experiment with creating large area surveys by logging signal strength data against GPS locations to generate a heatmap. If you are interested in that idea, then it is similar to Tim Haven’s driveby noise detector system which also used RTL-SDR dongles, or the heatmap feature in RTLSDR Scanner.
A while back we posted about Samy Kamkars popular “RollJam” device, which was a $32 home made device that was able to defeat rolling code based wireless security systems such as those used on modern cars.
Wireless security researcher Andrew Macpherson became interested in RollJam and has now written up a post showing how to create a similar device using the YardStickOne and RFcat wireless tools. In his post Andrew shows how he automates the replay attack side of things using a Python script and two RFcat devices. He also fully explains how rolling codes work and how to attack them using the CodeGrabbing/RollJam technique. Andrew explains the RollJam technique as follows:
Target parks their car, gets out the carAttacker launches a jammer that prevents the car from receiving the code from the remote
Target presses the remote, car does NOT lock and the attacker obtains the first keypress
Target presses the remote a second time and the attacker obtains the second keypress
Attacker then sends the first key press to lock the car, car locks as per normal
Target assumes all is well and carries on about their day
Attacker then sends the second keypress to the car, unlocking it
Target returns to the vehicle and remote works as per normal
In the video below Andrew uses an SDR to help demonstrate the RollJam attack.
At this years Def Con conference speaker Samy Kamkar revealed how he built a $32 device called “RollJam” which is able to break into cars and garages wirelessly, by defeating the rolling code protection offered by wireless entry keys. Def Con is a very popular yearly conference that focuses on computer security topics.
A rolling code improves wireless security by using a synchronized pseduo random number generator (PRNG) on the car and key. When the key is pressed the current code is transmitted, and if the code matches what the car is expecting the door opens. The seed for the PRNG in the car and key is then incremented. This prevents replay attacks.
The RollJam hardware currently consists of a Teensy 3.1 microcontroller and two CC1101 433 MHz RF transceiver modules. It works by recording the wireless key signal, but at the same time jamming it so that the car does not receive the signal. When the key is pressed a second time the signal is first jammed and recorded again, but then the first code is replayed by the RollJam device. Now you have an unused code stored in RollJam that can be used to open the car. Samy shows how this works using an SDR and waterfall display graph in the following slide.
Samy’s full set of presentation slides can be downloaded from samy.pl/defcon2015. Also several large publications including networkworld.co, Wired.com and forbes.com have also covered this story with longer more in depth articles that may be of interest to readers.