The New York Times’ resident tech dunderhead and style blogger Nick Bilton recently watched as a couple of rowdy youths hacked his car. It’s possible this guy inadvertently stumbled onto a good story.

Here are the key details, as he tweeted himself.

Bilton commented further stating that his car is a Toyota Prius, that he chased down the kids with the intent of asking them what device they were using, and that he came up empty handed.

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It’s not clear exactly what the kids were using to break into his car, but we have a pretty good idea. After all, this is far from the first time this has happened. Back in 2011, we saw a research team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology use antennas to amplify signals bouncing between a key fob and a car to unlock the vehicle on their own.

In 2013, we saw a string of break-ins from electronic devices physically pressed against new car doors. We believe those were just RF transmitters cycling through remote-entry codes.

It was last year at a Blackhat conference that one hacker made the news showing how a thousand dollars of radio equipment could do the same job. Basically, he picked up the frequency of a nearby fob and then he himself transmitted codes like the fob’s to the car. His setup was reasonably expensive and not exactly wieldy, being attached to a laptop.

Bilton claims that what the kid hackers used to get into his car costs about a hundred bucks. Anyone out there got a link?


Contact the author at raphael@jalopnik.com.