Tech

Hackers Reveal Scary Flaw In 100 Cars That Volkswagen Kept Secret For 2 years

Could your car be at risk from hackers?

Chances are this futuristic headache may be closer to home than you think, as it’s now been revealed that the keyless tech used in 126 types of modern car has actually made these vehicles much easier to steal.

This list of affected cars includes everything from the humble Kia, mid-range Hondas, Volvos all the way up to the luxury fleet of Volkswagen's Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley brands, due to keyless technology.

According to CNN, a team of European scientists found out that many cars rely on similar chips made by EM Microelectronic in Switzerland. But when the researchers warned the major firms back in 2012, Volkswagen used its lawyers to keep these papers research under wraps for two years. 

Only now, following a recent legal settlement, are the papers in the public domain.

In short, it’s all about cracking a code sent between a car and the widely-used Megamos Crypto transponder 'key'. This is responsible for the encryption and running of the vehicle. The report reads: 'At some point the mechanical key was removed from the vehicle but the cryptographic mechanisms were not strengthened to compensate'.

Admittedly, a hacker might need access to the car beforehand (rental, valet parking, it’s not out of the realms) to listen in on these two components talking to each other. From there, they can use the transmitted codes to work out the system's security pattern and voila - it’s easy to make a copy of the key and the chip.

Speaking to CNNMoney, Volkswagen conceded that this flaw is present in its cars, but stressed that the hack takes "considerable, complex effort" that most criminals won’t be able to replicate, also adding that its latest cars, including the Golf 7 and Passat B8, don’t carry this technological Achilles heel.

Was R Kelly foretelling a future where your car was a constant threat of being hacked by singing his remix to Ignition? Probably not, but in case he wants to know if his fleet of cars are at risk due to smart-key technology, he'll find a full list of the affected vehicles below.