Not so easy

Published: Wednesday 31 January 1996

Electronic immobilisers have been highly successful in cutting down car thefts. But security experts fear that skilled thieves could 'crack' an immobiliser if the code sent to the engine control were intercepted by a hidden receiver.

Siemens in Germany is using cryptography to make immobilisers even more secure. A microchip in the engine's control unit sends a random number to the ignition key.

This activates a 'cryptoalgoritbm' which computes a response using a random number and a secret code, which is then transmitted back to the engine's control unit. If the challenge and response match, the immobiliser is disabled and the engine starts.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.