Volkswagen, Audi and Seat cars can be broken into using just a £30 radio, security researchers say

The attack allows people to spy on key fobs, and then use them to break into a vehicle

Andrew Griffin
Friday 12 August 2016 12:33 BST
(Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch )

Many of the Volkswagen cars sold since 1995 can easily be unlocked by hackers, according to a team of researchers.

A large number of the 100 million cars sold in the last 20 years by Volkswagen – also including the Audi, Seat and Skoda brands – can be unlocked using just a homemade radio that costs about £30.

The cheap equipment allows hackers to listen in on the signals sent by keys to their cars. Those signals can then be replicated using the same equipment – meaning that it can successfully pretend to be a key and unlock the car.

Volkswagen has said that it is aware of the problem and is working with the researchers who found it.

The issues are described by researchers from the University of Birmingham and German security company Kasper & Oswald. Their paper, presented at a security conference in Texas, lays out two separate ways of doing the attack which would compromise the locking systems on VW cars.

The researchers say that once they worked to clone the digital keys, they could reverse-engineer the systems used in the affected models. After doing that they found

Volkswagen has said that it wouldn’t be possible to start a car using the attack, which only affects the keyless entry systems that are used to open their doors.

Experts also said that it would be difficult for anyone to easily recreate the workings that the academics did to break into the system.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in