How reliable are car GSM alarms and how to protect yourself from hacking
The range of car alarms offered by manufacturers is very large. Between themselves, different models differ in the principle of operation and a set of security functions. One of the main characteristics is the signal transmission method. Now more and more actively in the security systems, the opportunities provided by mobile operators are used. These are the so-called GSM alarms, which belong to a large class of wireless security systems.
Principle of operation of GSM devices
The peculiarity is that the GSM complexes transmit and receive signals using mobile communications. A special GSM module is installed on the car, into which a standard SIM card is inserted. It provides the ability to transmit and receive a signal. Some models are able to support work with two SIM-cards, this provides increased reliability, because if the signal from one has become weaker or there are problems, the cards change among themselves. Such alarms are more stable. In case of emergency, the car owner receives a message on his phone, it is very convenient. Also, the management of all functions of the security system can also be done remotely using a smartphone.
Advantages and disadvantages of GSM encoding
The main advantage of radio channel security systems is a large range, which is limited only by the presence of mobile communications coverage. Other advantages of GSM alarms include:
- versatility-they are suitable for the protection of almost any object (naturally within the coverage area of a mobile network);
- simplicity and high speed of installation and commissioning;
- there are no significant restrictions for connecting the device to an existing security system.
- the ability to make operational changes to the security system configuration;
- control panel mobility;
- the ability to use multiple devices simultaneously for management.
The main advantage can also be considered the main disadvantage. The fact is that depending on the quality of mobile communications reception and the size of the coverage area, sometimes the system may stop working. This most often occurs where a mobile network signal is often lost or unstable. Although now such problems are becoming less common. In addition, when going abroad, be sure to specify the conditions for roaming operators. Otherwise, a very unpleasant surprise may be waiting for you.
It is worth saying that there are no such drawbacks of the system, controlled simultaneously from the phone and key fob. But their cost is much higher.
How to crack alarms with a GSM signal?
Naturally, like any other security system, GSM alarms have their own vulnerabilities. And if you know them, then you can prevent possible problems in the future. Let's look at the main methods that criminals can use to crack or turn off this type of car alarm.
Most often for cracking alarms operating in the GSM range, the signal jamming method is used. They do this with the help of special devices capable of completely suppressing the ability to transmit signals in any of the used mobile communication standards within a radius of several tens of meters. As a result, the communication module installed on the machine cannot connect to the network, which prevents it from sending an alarm to the vehicle owner.
So, different devices can be used to silence security systems, the main types are the following:
- Broadband. These are devices that emit powerful noise continuously and simultaneously at all working GSM frequencies. This leads to the fact that the car GSM module cannot see the base stations of the operator, and also can not contact the satellite if the system has GPS.
- Sorting frequencies-this option is very similar to the first, with onethe only difference is that interference is switched on sequentially and transmitted over all available frequencies of all used GSM channels. It also completely blocks the ability of the GSM module to transmit a message. Such devices operate, usually within a radius of 5-15 meters and have a very small size, easily fit in a jacket pocket.
- "Smart" is the most advanced option, such a "jammer" is able to impersonate the base receiving station of a mobile operator. In this case, the GSM-module continues to work as usual without visible malfunctions. However, in reality, the alarm system will not be able to transmit the signal, since it will be sent to the receiver of criminals, and not to the towers of the mobile operator. The operation of such systems is very energy consuming.
Using fake SIM cards
A car can be hacked using a fake SIM-card, which is installed in the security system module. At first, criminals jam the signal by neutralizing the original map. The machine will not give an alarm. After the substitution, periodic test calls, which are necessarily carried out to check the operability of the alarm, will already arrive on a fake card.
Hacking GSM car alarm systems
The solution to the problem of hacking such systems is to control the communication channel. The module in the security complex at certain, predetermined time intervals must communicate with a special monitoring service. When a failure is observed and the signal does not reach the service, it sends a corresponding alarm message to the vehicle owner.
To increase the level of reliability and degree of protection in high-end car alarms, an additional spare GSM module with a built-in battery that can work autonomously is used. If the main unit of the system was hacked, an additional device capable of transmitting an alarm is immediately turned on. At the same time, the built-in battery allows the additional module to work, even if a complete blackout of the system occurs.
There are 2 effective methods to combat jamming:
- Detection of the fact of signal jamming on the side of the GSM module integrated into the alarm system. If he sees an extraneous signal or noise at operating frequencies, he tries to immediately send an alert in order to catch up to the complete cessation of the possibility of transmission. But this is a difficult task, since sending a message will be difficult if the transmitter is already completely muffled.
- Detection of an attempt to suppress a signal using external devices. In this case, a system is created that constantly checks the connection between the security device and a separate dedicated server. Thus, constant monitoring of the state of the channel is carried out. This allows you to guarantee the moment when the connection with the car will be lost, on the server side. As soon as the GSM signal has ceased to arrive, the server sends the owner of the machine an SMS message, an e-mail, or makes a control call.
That is, it turns out that in order to effectively detect the fact of jamming the signal, the security system should:
- ensure that there is a duplicate channel for sharing important data;
- use the method of controlling the signal from the protection object;
- have a reliable remote antenna.
The use of mobile communications in car alarms is very convenient and can improve the efficiency and ease of use. At the same time, the models with the function of monitoring the communication channel are the most reliable, however, their cost is higher. In addition, do not forget that no one will give a 100% guarantee against hacking, since criminals also keep up with the times and constantly improve hacking technologies. In order to make the car’s protection as efficient as possible, it is recommended that, in addition to signaling, additional means be used: immobilizers, hood locking systems and GPS beacons. The first two devices are designed to maximally complicate the task for attackers, and the tracker will quickly find the car that was stolen.
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