Kid’s toy hack
Maybe you remember the fuss caused by security researcher Samy Kamkar last summer. Kamkar used a pre-smartphone toy Radica IM-ME for wireless text messaging, capable of broadcasting and receiving at a broad range of frequencies. The hacker added his own antenna and reprogrammed the toy, tweaking and optimizing the program to bring the attack to an 8-second duration. However, the researcher and developer has pointed out that this project was intended only to draw attention to potential safety threats. Even though the project is transparent, Kamkar emphasized that the code is bricked, so that no one can use it anymore.
The garage door opener has a receiving module for the waves transmitted by a remote transmitter. However, most garage doors manufactured before 1993 had a dip switch system, which was moved to code the opener.
The Kamkar hack works on fixed code garage door openers. Before the hack, criminals used “code grabbers” for fixed codes, recording the code sent from the user’s garage door remote and then replaying the code to open the door. The Kamkar attack went a step further and didn’t even require the user to be present.
How to prevent it?
It’s best to make sure your garage door opener uses a rolling code. You can find the information on the opener box – look for the fabrication date, model number and the device’s serial number. The remote should also indicate something like security+ or rolling code. Rolling codes are safer because the code changes after every use and there are around a million of possible combinations. In comparison, the fixed code openers have only around four or five thousand combinations.
If you are using your own code through an external keypad, make sure you change it minimum once a year and keep it a secret. It shouldn’t be shared with anyone you don’t fully trust, just as you wouldn’t give your house key to anyone you don’t have full confidence in.
Coat hanger hack
This attack is far less sophisticated and contingent on a number of factors. However, it’s something to bear in mind. Garages that have windows on the top row of the sections can be vulnerable to this attack. Sliding an unfolded hanger pin through the outer weatherstripping, the thief can deactivate the opener if they can see the trigger through the window. Of course, it’s also necessary for the opener to be close enough to the door.
How can you protect yourself?
You can put curtains over the windows or you can use a Ty-Rap cable to stop the slide from activating the emergency trigger. Then, when you need the emergency cord, you have to cut the cable.
There is also the Garage Defender System that prevents triggering the system, but allows the use of emergency cord.
Keep the access door to the house locked.
When you are going away for a longer period, consider installing a side bar lock or unplug the opener. However, when you get back you will have to reprogram it, which only takes minutes.
Need professional help?
A professional can give you the best information regarding the type of garage door opener system you have and how you can make the system safe for your home. Rockstar Garage Door Services is a market-leading, local business providing premium garage door repairs San Diego and more. Whether you would like to upgrade your system, install a new one, maintain and service the existing one – Rockstar Garage Door Services are a one-stop shop for all your garage door needs in San Diego.