TUCoPS :: Hardware Hacks :: codegrab.txt

The media scoop on "code grabbers" - devices that let a criminal spoof garage door openers giving them access to a house

 Msg  : 429 of 497                                                              
 From :  Ronell (Ron) Elkayam       1:340/13                01 Dec 95  11:53:56 
 To   : All                                                 01 Dec 95  18:57:12 
 Subj : Code Grabber -- The Scoup                                               
From: relkay01@fiu.edu (.Ronell (Ron) Elkayam)
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The articles herebelow mention a tel # where you can purchase the
anti-Code Grabber (called Code Rotator).  Does anyone have the number
for Kingfish Manufacturing in Long Beach (makers of Code Grabber)?
I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment...  ;)




                       SHOW: 6 News at 11 pm; WTVJ; Miami

                         November 28, 1995 11:00pm; ET


MEDIUM: Television

TYPE: Local

LENGTH: 1840 words

ANCHOR: Tony Segreto and Jennifer Valoppi



11:14 pm

Steve Daniels reports, in part one of a series, that thieves have a w-w weapon,
an electronic device called the  CODE GRABBER,  that can open  garage doors.
(SB) John Kurzman, homeowner, says it is very scary. (SB) Kurzman. (SB) Kurzman
says he is leaving his door open with this device. (SB) Chief Bill Berger, NORTH
MIAMI BEACH POLICE, says criminals can get this and it will be hard for them to
is a clear public danger. (SB) Chuck. (SB) Mark O'Keefe, STREET SMART SECURITY,
says people call them and are scared that people have easy access to their
house. (SB) Kurzman. (C)  CODE GRABBER, garage door  opening, police officers
meeting in Las Vegas, CODE ROTATOR. (V) How the  Code Grabber  works, costs
$100, advertisements for  CODE GRABBERS,  tips include use appliance timer,
unplug opener, CODE ROTATOR from STREET SMART SECURITY at 800-908-4737.


                      SHOW: Today in LA; KNBC; Los Angeles

                           August 10, 1995 6:00am; PT


MEDIUM: Television

TYPE: Local

LENGTH: 1453 words

ANCHOR: Kathy Vara and Kent Shocknek



David Horowitz found " code grabbers" , a battery-powered device, easily
obtainable, that decodes car alarms and  garage door  openers.  (V) Code


                        SHOW: News at 11; KNSD; SanDiego

                           July 20, 1995 11:00pm; PT


MEDIUM: Television

TYPE: Local

LENGTH: 1400 words

ANCHOR: Marty Levin, Margaret Radford



For less than $300, people can buy a box that lets them use your  garage door
opener. A code rotator makes such a decoder worthless.  (C) The new device. (SB)
SAN DIEGO POLICE sergeant Jim Kurupas said thieves were using  code grabbers.


                                Chicago Tribune

                April 23, 1995 Sunday, CHICAGOLAND FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 643 words


BYLINE: By Dean Takahashi, Knight-Ridder/Tribune.


   Chipmakers and carmakers are teaming up to put a dent in high-tech theft.

   The latest effort is by National Semiconductor Corp., which has created
encrypted semiconductor chips that can make it a lot harder for thieves to
outwit electronic devices that provide extra security for autos or  garage

   For several years, more cars have been coming with keys that have microchips
that can transmit a security code before the ignition can be turned on. Such
devices also are used for security in  garage door  openers, which send a code
via a radio to open the door.

   Thieves have outwitted these devices by using so-called " code grabbers, " or
electronic devices that allow them to steal the code from a distance as you're
trying to unlock your car door or enter your garage. That has prompted carmakers
and alarm makers to equip cars with chips that can send a rolling code, or a
different code after every use.

   But the thieves figured out how to capture the formula, or algorithm, that
the chip used to create the new code. Such high-tech car theft was especially
popular in Italy, said Jim Jaffe, a product line manager at National.

   Now National's chip will use scrambling technology so sophisticated that
thieves will have only a 1 in 281 trillion chance of decoding it. If the thief
tried 1,000 codes a second, it would take 500,000 years to get the right decode,
the company said. U.S. carmakers are expected to make anti-theft electronics a
part of the cars for the 1996 model year, Jaffe said.

   "Insurance companies are beginning to require these anti-theft devices for
lower rates," said Anne Gregory, a marketing manager at National in Santa Clara.
"We think it's going to be a good market."

   National's chip could start appearing soon as part of an aftermarket car
alarm kit or it will be available in a year or two in new models, Gregory said.
The encryption chip costs $1.57 for orders more than 1,000 units. The chips
would be part of a security system for a car.

   National officials think that price is a steal-no pun intended-compared to
the cost of car theft. According to the FBI, 1.5 million cars worth $7.5 billion
were stolen in the U.S. in 1993.

   "This is going to stop the car thief who is a hacker," he said.

   Thieves have outmaneuvered encryption chips by hot-wiring cars, or bypassing
the key-ignition system. To deal with this problem, chipmakers expect newer cars
to have standard security features, such as chips that can shut down a car if it
isn't being used with the proper key.

   The number of chips in cars is expected to grow to an average of 35 by 2000,
up from two in 1980. The value of the chips in each car is expected to rise to
$500 in 2000 from $150 in 1994. Some new BMW models have more than 50 chips,
said Tom Beaver, a marketing vice president for Motorola Inc., the largest maker
of chips for cars.

   "Security technology has a lot of applications in the commercial world," said
Neil Shea, director of embedded security chips at San Jose-based VLSI
Technology. "We're looking at trying to solve problems from cellular phone fraud
to car theft."

   Other devices can notify police of the location of a car if it has been
reported as stolen. Taken together, these electronic devices can make stealing
cars much more difficult. They also can raise issues about privacy.

   As much as technology advances, some thieves always find a way. In Southern
California, car jackings (stealing cars from drivers at gunpoint) have become a
part of everyday life. That's in part because low-tech criminals find it easier
to steal cars with a running engine and the key in the ignition.

   "There are a lot of things you can do to make your car more secure," said
Sgt. Tom McReady, in the auto theft unit of the San Jose Police Department.
"But I don't know of any car that can't be stolen."


                               Los Angeles Times

                March 25, 1995, Saturday, Orange County Edition

SECTION: Business; Part D; Page 4; Financial Desk

LENGTH: 344 words




   Jim Boyle came home from work one Tuesday and noticed his  garage door  was
open. Strange, because he had closed it when he left that morning.

   Inside his single-story house, someone had rifled through every closet and
drawer, making off with $8,000 in leather jackets, fur coats, power tools and
camera gear.

   Boyle had received a rude awakening to the high-tech world of  garage-door
opener burglaries. Like cellular fraud and computer hacking, this type of crime
is another example of criminals using electronic gadgetry to ply their illicit

   Police and security systems experts say burglars using electronic " code
 grabbers"  can record and play back the signal from an automatic  garage-door
opener from hundreds of feet away.

   When Boyle left his house and activated his  garage-door  opener, a thief
with a " code grabber"  was able to retransmit the signal and open the door. He
walked in -- and walked off with no telltale signs of breaking and entering.

   "It's like having a key to your house," said Mark O'Keefe, a salesman at
Street Smart Security in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb.

   His colleague, Michael Lamb, 27, markets a device called a "code rotator" to
combat the thievery trend. Each time the remote control is pressed, the code
rotates to a new one, rendering a " code grabber"  useless.

   A state law passed last year makes it a misdemeanor in California to use a
 code grabber  for illegal activity.

   And Rep. Ron Packard (R-Oceanside) has introduced similar legislation at the
federal level.

   Lamb's familiarity with the  code grabber,  which has surfaced in the past
year, has made him an expert among law enforcement officials.

   Lamb bought his, for demonstration purposes, from Kingfish Manufacturing in
Long Beach, one of the only manufacturers in the country.

   Jim Telenko, who owns Kingfish, said he designed the grabber for retailers
and manufacturers, not criminals.

   "I imagine thieves would want to buy it a lot like they would want to buy
handguns," he said. "But this device is perfectly legal. I designed it for the


                          The San Diego Union-Tribune

                             March 13, 1995, Monday

SECTION: LOCAL; Ed. 1,2,3; Pg. B-4

LENGTH: 683 words

HEADLINE: High-tech burglars zero in on homeowners' garages But some police say
 code grabber'  no real threat yet

Staff Writer

   An electronic device called a " code grabber"  can give thieves easy access
to your garage and home, some security companies are warning.

   In an instant, from hundreds of feet away, this book-sized $300 device
intercepts the coded signal from a  garage-door  remote controller and copies it
on a computer chip.  By resending the copied signal later on, a thief can open
the door.

   "It has an operating range of 500 to 600 feet and can operate any  garage
 door  it sees," said Michael Lamb, owner of Street Smart Security in La Mesa.
"It's like having a key to your house."

   However, some police officials say that while  code grabbers  are a potential
problem, right now the threat is more sales pitch than solid.

   "I don't see it as a real issue at this point, as far as being a burglary
device," said San Diego Police Sgt. Jim Kurupas, who heads a police property
crimes unit.

   Kurupas noted that most residential burglars are small-time criminals
supporting drug habits and are not likely to spend a lot of money on tools of
the trade.

   "Most of your guys out there -- your tweakers -- are not going to drop 300
bones to buy that thing," he said.

   Lamb's company is making and selling a $159 system that it says protects any
 garage-door  opener from a  code grabber.   Called a "code rotator," it comes
with remotes and uses a computer chip to change security codes continually.

   Lamb argues that the threat is real now and likely to increase.  He cites Jim
Boyle of Clairemont as a recent victim.

   Early in February, Boyle pulled out of his driveway and closed his  garage
 door  with the remote in his car.  Later that afternoon, Boyle said, a yard
worker found his  garage door  open.

   "There was no other sign of forcible entry," Boyle said.  About $8,000 in
jewelry, camera equipment and furs had been stolen from the house.

   Boyle says he is not sure how the thief opened his  garage door,  but he
suspects that a  code grabber  could be responsible.  He heard about Street
Smart's code rotator and contacted the company.

   Street Smart has given Boyle's name to reporters pursuing the  code-grabber
story, Boyle said, but so far the company has not been able to sell him a code
rotator because they are sold out.

   "They have made hay in the sunshine, while the news people are descending on
me like locusts," complained Boyle, a civilian Navy employee.

   Concern about  code grabbers,  which also work on some remote-controlled car
alarms, has prompted state and federal legislative proposals that would make it
illegal to use one in the commission of a crime.

   Lamb first heard of them several months ago, he said, when some "little
gang-banger kids" in his shop bragged about having one, but refused his offer of
$500 to buy it.  Lamb said he later found an advertisement for a  code grabber
in an industry magazine and purchased it from a Long Beach company for $300.

   Jim Telenko, who owns the Long Beach company, said he has sold a couple of
dozen prototypes and plans to sell several hundred more.  Telenko designed his
device not as a burglary tool, he maintained, but as a sales tool for alarm and
 garage-door  companies, which use them to demonstrate to customers the security
risks from code-grabbing thieves.

   Telenko insisted that he screens his customers.  "Before they can get their
hands on one, they send me a photo copy of their business license or dealer's
certificate," he said.

   Both Lamb and Telenko warn that other  code grabbers  are out there, however.

   "This device could be built by any competent third-year engineering student,
Telenko said.  "This isn't rocket science."

   But Sgt. Kurupas said he has only seen one  code grabber  so far -- the one
Lamb bought from Telenko.  "If some of these guys (burglars) figure out how to
put one together, then yeah, I might be concerned," he said.  "But a lot of
these guys are not that advanced."

   Kurupas said he is not aware of any statistics that indicate  code grabbers
are being used much.

   "We have people going through roofs and smashing windows that I'm more
concerned about than this thing," he said.

GRAPHIC: 2 PHOTOS; 1. Electronic thief in action: Devices like this one can
intercept and record the frequency specific to a  garage door  opener, enabling
burglars to open them at will later on. 2. Possible cure: Eric Allen of Street
Smart Security displays a device that can defeat code-grabbing technology.


               Proprietary to the United Press International 1995

                        March 6, 1995, Monday, BC cycle

SECTION: Regional News


LENGTH: 378 words

HEADLINE: Thieves using electronics for burglaries


   Thieves are using electronic radio frequency counters to intercept and decode
signals from automatic  garage-door  openers and burglarize homes, authorities
said Monday.  San Diego police say the thieves are also using the devices to
break into alarm-protected cars.  Such burglaries are hard to track because the
thieves leave no trace the home or vehicle has been broken into, said Officer
John Graham.  ''It's a silent, high-tech tool for crime,'' said Huntington Beach
police detective Chuck Nowotny, who is president of the Southern California
Burglary and Theft Investigators Association.  The so-called '' code grabber' '
records and duplicates the radio signal in the  garage door  opener or car alarm
from hundreds of feet away.  ''So what a thief can do is sit in his car and
monitor houses in front, behind and the next block over,'' said Michael Lamb,
technical manager for Street Smart Security in La Mesa.  The thief can use the
pilfered codes to open the garage, drive his vehicle inside, get into the house
and loot it and close the  garage door  behind him when he leaves.  ''And if
you're not aware that his is how it was done, he can come back and do it
again,'' Lamb said. ''It's like having a key to your house.'' The device can be
purchased for about $300 or made from scratch with parts available in most
electronics stores for about $25, he said. The device is ususally contained in a
3 x 5-inch box. The technology is similar to that used to clone cellular phones.
Theft of cellular phone codes cost the telephone industry an estimated $2.5
billion last year.  ''I have yet to catch anyone using one of these ( code
 grabber)  devices,'' Nowotny said. ''However, the technology is there and it
works.'' The devices are advertised in electronics magazines and are
legitimately used for testing the remote units in  garage door  openers, Lamb
said. California law makes it a misdemeanor to use a  code grabber  for illegal
activity.  The only known way to combat the threat is to install a ''code
rotator'' that rotates the code each time the remote is pressed. The rotator
produces 70 billion codes so the same code is never repeated, making the
'' code grabber' ' useless. The rotator sells for $159.




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