18 February 2013

Uganda: Know Your Car Remote Locking System

They are smart and convenient as you do not have to fumble around with the door, but they have some potential downside.

Most motorists know about the usual remote locking system perils. For example, most motorists know that another remote can also potentially unlock your doors without your knowledge, especially in a crowded area like a shopping mall, stadium, church or mosque.

This inadvertent intrusion is rare in factory installed remote locking systems that 'mate' the car and the lock using encrypted codes. But it can happen.

Secondly, many are aware of the risk of the remote failing. It could be because of battery failure. Some cars allow you to use your regular car key to open, many remote systems let of an alarm that will not go off.

In case the problem is major and you need a replacement, that remote locking system could prove quite expensive. In some cases you might have to return the key to the manufacturer.

Unknown to many motorists, on the security side and mainly in older cars, is what is called the 'dead lock'. It is activated when the car is locked and de-activates the internal controls for the windows, the central locking, and door handles to prevent any would be intruder from smashing a window and then reaching inside and opening the door.

It is a good system but could be dangerous when, for example, a child is left in the car and they cannot evacuate in case of excessive heat or other emergency.

Some BMWs have the dead lock system but it has to be deliberately activated by double-clicking the cars' remote controls.

There also a danger from 'remote blocking' thieves who electronically jamming the alarm systems and prevent the car from locking. I have not heard of a case in Uganda, but it happens in other places.

When you press the remote to lock the car, make sure the remote light flashes.

Usually the would-be intruder lurks somewhere in the vicinity with a multi-purpose remote-control device to jam car immobilisers and prevent you from locking your vehicle.

In any case, it is sometimes safer to lock your car with the key or lock the door with the button.

The intruders use high-tech programmes on laptops to 'read' your lock code when you lock your car with the remote. They then determine the unlock sequence and open your car. The whole operation takes seconds.

Most motorists would know that your remote locking system uses radio frequencies that can be 'listened' to using a wireless networking device.

An intruder will enter your car after they establish a communication link with it similar to your remote key.

One analyst said although some manufacturers claim their remotes are foolproof, as the data in the transmission from their remote to your car is encrypted, the thieves are not interested in that. All they need is to 'capture' the transmission; not to read it. Your car will do that and open up.

Copyright © 2013 The Independent. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.