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Finnish police: Keep your smart car keys in the fridge to freeze out hackers

Samsung RF23J9011SR Fridge
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Next time you can’t find your car keys, have a look in the fridge because you might have left them there. Police authorities in Finland are advising car owners with smart car keys to leave their keys in the fridge to avoid potential cyberattacks.

The advice comes from the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation which is informing drivers that the signal between your car and its keys cannot be intercepted when the keys are within the cold confines of a fridge. Cybercriminals with the right know-how could intercept the signal between a car lock and its key to open the door without the owner knowing.

“It sounds strange, but it makes sense,” Jari Tiiainen from the National Bureau of Investigation told Finnish national broadcaster YLE. Wrapping your key in tinfoil has a similar effect.

The security concerns for smart car keys stem from some real-life examples. In August, a security researcher found a bug in wireless keys affecting more than 100 million Volkswagen cars. It had the potential to allow a hacker to open a door by using a piece of radio hardware to intercept the signal and replicate it to open the doors of a car.

In March, German researchers showed off another method that extends the range for a keyless lock to be opened by criminals. It affected more than 19 different manufacturers. Security tinkerers in Switzerland made similar discoveries as far back as 2011.

Some security experts aren’t in agreement with the advice from Finnish police to toss your keys in the fridge, and have dismissed it as unnecessary.

Sean Sullivan from F-Secure points out that cold storage units like fridges are more likely to damage your key. If you’re worried about signal interception and someone stealing your car, he recommends keeping your keys in a Faraday bag, which blocks electric signals. It’s a slightly, more convenient method and you won’t have to explain to your roommate why there’s a car key next to the eggs.

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