Relay Attack Resistant Passive Keyless Entry : Securing PKE Systems with Immobility Detection
Abstract: A significant security risk of modern vehicles is their vulnerability to relay attacks, due to challenge-response methods, such as those employed in Passive Keyless Entry (PKE) used by most commercial cars, being inherently exposed. This class of attacks are where communication between a vehicle and its key is relayed by an attacker over long range - thereby bypassing any encryption and unlocking the vehicle without requiring direct access to the key. While a multitude of defenses have been proposed in recent years, many lack either robustness or practicality. Any viable system will likely have to rely on an environmental parameter which is not easily manipulated. Moreover, the system has to be: cost effective; easily implementable; and take user comfort, such as the key’s battery life, into account. This thesis implements and evaluates a PKE system resistant to relay attacks, analyses a multitude of proposed strategies in literature for feasibility, as well as suggests a novel method: Approach Curve Matching. It is concluded that the most promising strategies are: Immobility Detection, Distance Bounding Protocols, and Approach Curve Matching - the first of which is chosen to be implemented in the prototype PKE system. The project develops a PKE system and implements the communication protocol using Bluetooth, as opposed to the conventional RFID. Immobility Detection, using an accelerometer, is then implemented. The final system is then tested and evaluated. It is concluded that while Immobility Detection is not comprehensively effective, it is easily implementable, cost-effective, and can greatly increase the security of PKE systems. Finally, it is proposed that Immobility Detection should be employed promptly by manufacturers while investigating potentially more effective, albeit uncertain, strategies.
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