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Is Your Home Vulnerable to Garage Door Hacks?

  • admin
  • 01 Sep 2016
  •   Comments Off on Is Your Home Vulnerable to Garage Door Hacks?

Neighborhood Garage Door Service of Denver, Colorado is aware of many forms of garage door hacks. It might be a point of vulnerability in your home that you’ve never considered before. If a criminal was able to remotely open your garage door, they might have full access to your home.

garage door hacker

Understanding Hacking

Thanks to movies and tv, we have a poor understanding of what “hacking” really refers to. Some think that posting something silly to someone’s Facebook if they leave their phone lying around is hacking. Others picture the stereotypical underground teenager with a snarky attitude and a dusting of Dorito residue on their fingers.

Basically, hacking refers to modifying something for some unintended use. This can be as simple as the dad who uses a shop vac to give his daughter the perfect ponytail, or as complicated as creating software to break through security and access your bank account. In the case of your garage door, the weak point is the remote opener. Since it is based on radio frequencies, it can be hacked.

A Brief History of Garage Door Technology

Electric garage door openers have been around for almost 100 years. They’ve undergone many upgrades over the years, including the area of security. The original versions used a simple push-button opener in the driveway that a driver could easily access. As you can imagine, this was highly insecure.

Fueled by steps forward in communication technology, radio frequency based remote openers were the next innovation. The original remotes did not increase security as much as convenience. Anyone with a garage door opener could open any door because they all used a basic code on one frequency.

Continuing to supply better security, overhead door companies created a dipswitch method of programming remotes. This method used a set of 12 up or down switches. The switches would be set identically on the remote and the opener. With almost 4,100 possible combinations, it would be almost impossible for a hacker to try to find the right combination manually.

This brings us to the current situation. Hackers can use computers to perform a “brute force” attack, trying every combination. Modern computers can run through all 4,096 possible codes in just seconds. This makes any door still relying on this dipswitch technology virtually wide open.

King of the Garage Door Hacks

Samy Kamkar is a white-hat hacker. As a security expert, he uses his abilities to hack into security systems as a way to help companies improve their security. He turned his attention to what he saw as a highly vulnerable entry point to homes. With some basic modifications, he was able to modify a device to brute force attack his own garage door opener. Perhaps to point out the absurd ease of this hack, he used a pink toy phone made by Mattel.

Samy’s first design, which added a simple antenna to the toy, was able to try every possible combination in around 30 minutes. After playing around with it he was able to modify his software allowing it to rule out certain guesses. This brought the time down to under one minute!

Samy released his design to the public in order to put pressure on garage door manufacturers to increase security. It worked, and companies developed a new system.

garage door opener remote

Latest protocol – Rolling Codes

Rather than having each remote and opener pairing rely on one fixed code, manufacturers introduced a rolling code system. This system works by changing the code after every use of the remote. This severely limits the brute force method by making the software start over after every attempt.

Not to be outdone, Samy has since hacked this method as well. Using a brilliant combination of radio jammers and a brute force attack, he was able to perform a garage door hack on the new openers as well. Interestingly, he discovered this could also be used to hack remote entry fobs for cars as well. This pushed manufacturers to create another new system that makes the codes expire quicker.

What Can You Do to Prevent Garage Door Hacks?

One very low-tech security measure you can take to secure your home against garage door hacks may seem like an obvious step. Lock the door from your garage to your home. Doing so will limit overall access to your home.

To help prevent a hacker from gaining access to your garage in the first place, make sure your garage door is using the latest security technology. A quick way to check this is to carefully open your remote. If you see a set of dipswitches, your door is definitely using a fixed code system and should be updated. You can also check your owner’s manual, or do a quick search online for your model number. Make sure your door is using current rolling code protocols.

If you discover that your garage door opener is out of date, consider replacing it. When you’re ready to upgrade your security, contact us at Neighborhood Garage Door Service of Denver, Colorado. We’ll be glad to help you select the right opener for your needs. Call today!

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positive reviews

They sent Doug Fussell out to my house on the day after Christmas! I had only called them three days before! Doug was a premier technician, very thorough and very efficient. I expected him to take two days, since he was replacing two doors and adding openers on each door. He only took the daylight hours of one day! I could not believe how fast he was! In addition, he thoroughly taught me how to use the remote openers. I highly recommend them to anyone!
~Donald B.

positive reviews

We just bought a home and this company was so understanding as I had to change the appointment time a few times. Then the tech came out and was so kind and helpful. I could not have asked for a better experience and will suggest them to anyone who needs work done on their garage door!
~Tammy K.

positive reviews

My garage door broke on a Saturday night as I was getting ready to leave for a holiday party. Kelvin was here within 30 minutes. He reviewed everything with me that was happening with my door. He gave me the estimates of what was immediately needed to be done in order for my door to raise and then what I will need to have done very soon. I could see all the problems he pointed out to me and I decided to have everything done. He completed everything that night. I was very satisfied with Kelvin’s professionalism and the work he did. Thank you again.
~Joyce N

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