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Bluetooth hack compromises Teslas

  • Leader
    Sep 25
    Bluetooth hack compromises Teslas

    A group of security researchers has found a way to circumvent digital locks and other security systems that rely on the proximity of a Bluetooth fob or smartphone for authentication.To get more news about smart door lock manufacturers, you can visit official website.

    Using what’s known as a “link layer relay attack,” security consulting firm NCC Group was able to unlock, start, and drive vehicles and unlock and open certain residential smart locks without the Bluetooth-based key anywhere in the vicinity.

    Sultan Qasim Khan, the principal security consultant and researcher with NCC Group, demonstrated the attack on a Tesla Model 3, although he notes that the problem isn’t specific to Tesla. Any vehicle that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for its keyless entry system would be vulnerable to this attack.

    Many smart locks are also vulnerable, Khan adds. His firm specifically called out the Kwikset/Weiser Kevo models since these use a touch-to-open feature that relies on passive detection of a Bluetooth fob or smartphone nearby. Since the lock’s owner doesn’t need to interact with the Bluetooth device to confirm they want to unlock the door, a hacker can relay the key’s Bluetooth credentials from a remote location and open someone’s door even if the homeowner is thousands of miles away.

    How it works
    This exploit still requires that the attacker have access to the owner’s actual Bluetooth device or key fob. However, what makes it potentially dangerous is that the real Bluetooth key doesn’t need to be anywhere near the vehicle, lock, or other secured devices.

    Instead, Bluetooth signals are relayed between the lock and key through a pair of intermediate Bluetooth devices connected using another method — typically over a regular internet link. The result is that the lock treats the hacker’s nearby Bluetooth device as if it’s the valid key.

    As Khan explains, “we can convince a Bluetooth device that we are near it — even from hundreds of miles away […] even when the vendor has taken defensive mitigations like encryption and latency bounding to theoretically protect these communications from attackers at a distance.”

    The exploit bypasses the usual relay attack protections as it works at a very low level of the Bluetooth stack, so it doesn’t matter whether the data is encrypted, and it adds almost no latency to the connection. The target lock has no way of knowing that it’s not communicating with the legitimate Bluetooth device.

    Since many Bluetooth security keys operate passively, a thief would only need to place one device within a few feet of the owner and the other near the target lock. For example, a pair of thieves could work in tandem to follow a Tesla owner away from their vehicle, relaying the Bluetooth signals back to the car so that it could be stolen once the owner was far enough away.

    These attacks could be carried out even across vast distances with enough coordination. A person on vacation in London could have their Bluetooth keys relayed to their door locks at home in Los Angeles, allowing a thief to quickly gain access simply by touching the lock.

    This also goes beyond cars and smart locks. Researchers note that it could be used to unlock laptops that rely on Bluetooth proximity detection, prevent mobile phones from locking, circumvent building access control systems, and even spoof the location of an asset or a medical patient.

    NCC Group also adds this isn’t a traditional bug that can be fixed with a simple software patch. It’s not even a flaw in the Bluetooth specification. Instead, it’s a matter of using the wrong tool for the job. Bluetooth was never designed for proximity authentication — at least not “for use in critical systems such as locking mechanisms,” the firm notes.