Refrigerating Car Keys Could Prevent Auto Theft

The multiple layers of metal in refrigerators and freezers make it more difficult for thieves to interfere with your car’s key fob.

byAlejandra O'Connell-Domenech|
Car Tech photo

As many people know, car keys now use a key fob for keyless entry, which is a security hardware device with built-in authentication used to control and secure access to computer systems, network services, and data for your car. One way to prevent auto theft by way of keyless entry is by keeping your key fob in the refrigerator, according to USA Today.  

Basically, everyone's car key has a computer chip inside that is programmed with a unique code that it sends to its corresponding car's security system when a driver presses the unlock or lock button. Every key fob and car pair is unique and creates billions of codes. 

Unfortunately, car thieves have figured out ways to intercept these electronic signals. Criminals can obtain these codes via a cheap relay box that can capture key fob signals up to 300 feet away and then transmit them to the corresponding car. 

Researchers at Redbound University in the Netherlands and the University of Birmingham found that hackers only needed to intercept these signals twice in order to narrow down the code possibilities from the billions to 200,000. After that, a computer can figure out the code in about 30 minutes. 

However, there are a few things car owners can do to make it more difficult for would-be thieves to intercept with key fob signals. The freezer or refrigerator is a free method and easily accessible to the car owner, reported USA Today. The multiple metal layers within the appliances will block the fob signals. One can also place keys in a microwave or an oven, the metal layers in both of those appliances will help block fob signals just as well. People can wrap their keys in tin foil or get a radio-frequency identification blocker. 

Car owners should make sure that by placing their key fob in the freezer or refrigerator it won't harm the computer chip inside. If it won't, then those are two cheap options for preventing theft.