Teslas Can Still Be Stolen With a Cheap Radio Hack—Despite New Keyless Tech

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In 2020, Tesla even wrote in a filing to the US Federal Communications Commission that it would be implementing ultra-wideband in its keyless entry systems, and that the ability to far more precisely measure the distance of a key fob or smartphone from a car would—or at least could—prevent its vehicles from being stolen via relay attacks. “The distance estimate is based on a Time of Flight measurement, which is immune to relay attacks,” Tesla's filing read. That document, first turned up by the Verge, led to widespread reports and social media comments suggesting that the upcoming ultra-wideband version of Tesla's keyless entry system would spell the end of relay attacks against its vehicles.

Yet the GoGoByte researchers found they were able to carry out their relay attack against the latest Tesla Model 3 over Bluetooth, just as they had with earlier models, from a distance as far as 15 feet between their device and the owner's key or phone. While the cars do appear to use ultra-wideband communications, they don't apparently use them for a distance check to prevent keyless entry theft.

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