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Palm III proves a hi-tech helper for car thieves

I didn't say blow the bleedin' doors off...

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A 3Com Palm III and software that lets the handheld control TVs and VCRs through its infrared port are all you need to nick a car these days, it seems. Danish IT journalist Lars Sorensen made the discovery when testing the sofwtare's legitimate uses. The software samples a TV's remote control signals so it can replicate them -- Sorensen wondered if it would do the same with a car's infrared lock and found that it would. Here in the UK, estimates from the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, quoted in New Scientist magazine, suggest that three million of the 22 million cars on the road are vulnerable to Palm-toting thieves. Interestingly, older cars that are more at risk than newer models. Most modern vehicles contain locking systems that change the locking code every time the key is used from sequences of 10 to the power 64 (a one with 64 zeros after it) making it virtually impossible to predict the code at any given instance. That said, Sorensen was able to enter a 1998 model, so no one can be sure they are safe. ®

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