Ford has a solution to keep hackers from stealing crucial information encoded in a key fob. The automaker announced last week that its smart key fobs will include a sleep mode to prevent hackers from decrypting key signals.
A hacker is capable of using what's called a "relay box" to extend a signal and unlock, lock, or start a car without the owner's doing or knowledge. Worse, the data could be used to create a duplicate key fob. Ford's new key fobs will include a sleep mode. Essentially, when the key doesn't detect it's in use, it goes dormant and hackers cannot use any equipment to manipulate the key. The key fob detects when it's been stationary for at least 40 seconds and enters the sleep mode. Then, it will be totally unresponsive.
When an owner picks the key up and starts to make the walk toward his or her Ford vehicle, it wakes up. The automaker said its keys are designed to work within 6.5 feet of the car they're programmed to.
Ford plans to roll the technology out in the United Kingdom first and the smart key fobs will be standard with the latest Fiesta and Focus. It's available with the Fiesta now and it will come to the Focus next month. For now, the key fobs with hacker protection aren't planned for the United States. Ford spokesperson Mike Levine told Motor Authority the brand will have more to share at a later date for the U.S. market.
For owners who missed out on the smart key fobs when purchasing a new Fiesta or latest-generation Focus, they can have their key fobs upgraded at a dealer for a price: $85 for the Fiesta or $94 for the Focus at current exchange rates.