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Tesla warns of 'relay attack' to steal cars

by Justin King

The company recommends disabling passive entry or storing the key fob in a Faraday-cage sleeve.

Tesla has issued a warning to certain owners in the UK after a string of successful vehicle thefts.

Thieves have apparently refined a 'relay attack' to steal Tesla's vehicles in Europe. The technique uses inexpensive electronic gear to repeat the proximity signal from a key fob, which may be in the house while a car is outside parked on the curb.

The relay attack tricks the car into thinking the key fob and owner are standing next to the vehicle, allowing the thieves to enter and start the car without the actual fob present.

"Relay attacks, a type of vehicle break-in that can be targeted at vehicles from many manufacturers including Tesla, allows an attacker to transmit a signal from your key in one location to your car in another location, thereby creating the potential for unauthorized access and entry," the company wrote in a letter to owners, as quoted by Electrek.

The letter recommends disabling the passive entry feature when parked in public spaces or storing keys in a holder that blocks electromagnetic transmissions, such as an RFID-blocking sleeve or Faraday cage.