Nigeria: NCC warns citizens regarding hackers who unlock, steal vehicles

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned telecoms clients and members of the public about an ongoing cyber-vulnerability that enables a nearby hacker to unlock a vehicle, activate the engine wirelessly and make away with the automobile.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned telecoms clients and members of the public about an ongoing cyber-vulnerability that enables a nearby hacker to unlock a vehicle, activate the engine wirelessly and make away with the automobile.

It stated the fact that car remotes are classified as short-range devices that utilises radiofrequency (RF) to lock and unlock cars informed the requirement for the commission to sensitise Nigerians to the emergent threat.

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As per the latest advisory given by the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), the cybersecurity centre for the telecoms sector launched by the NCC, the exposure is a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack or, more particularly, a replay attack in which a cyber attacker intercepts the RF signals usually sent from a remote key fob to the particular car, manipulates these signals and then sends them back to unlock the car.

In a statement, the regulator, by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ike Adinde, stressed that with the recent form of cyber-attack, it is also probable to manipulate the captured commands and re-transmit them to acquire a different outcome entirely.

He further said, “Multiple researchers disclosed a vulnerability, which is said to be used by a nearby attacker to unlock some Honda and Acura car models, and start their engines wirelessly.”

The NCC-CSIRT, in the advisory, has issued some preventive measures.

The unit has suggested, “When impacted, the only mitigation is to reset your key fob at the dealership.”

Other than this, the affected car provider may give a security mechanism that yields new codes for every authentication request. This makes it complex for an attacker to ‘replay’ the codes after that. Additionally, vulnerable car users should keep their key fobs in signal-blocking ‘Faraday pouches’ when not used.

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Most notably, car owners in the stated categories are counselled to select Passive Keyless Entry (PKE) as opposed to Remote Keyless Entry (RKE), that would make it difficult for a cyber attacker to read the signal because criminals would need to be in close proximity to carry out their infamous acts.

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