For the majority of American homeowners, the garage is one of those few sacred suburban spaces where our automobiles, tools and yard work essentials all coexist in harmony.
Recently, however, the sanctity of America’s garages has been violated — by a seemingly innocent kid’s toy.
According to Wired, security researcher Samy Kamkar has developed a way to get past the security code that keeps most garage doors locked by creating a tool called OpenSesame, which is built from a discontinued Mattel toy called the IM-ME.
The IM-ME, a toy that resembles one of those old cell phones that came with sliding keyboards, simply needs an antenna and an open-source attachment in order to be able to try every possible combination for these garage door codes in less than 10 seconds.
Even scarier? The OpenSesame device costs less than $100 to create.
“It’s a huge joke,” said Kamkar, a serial hacker who also works as an independent developer and consultant. “The worst case scenario is that if someone wants to break into your garage, they can use a device you wouldn’t even notice in their pocket, and within seconds the garage door is open.”
However, not all of the 53% of home buyers who want a two-car garage need to panic. OpenSesame only works on garage doors that respond to a “fixed code” that is wirelessly transmitted when you press the button on a remote garage door opener. “Rolling code” systems, which require you to punch the code in manually, aren’t vulnerable to this device.
Not for long, though — Kamkar told Wired he’s already working on a hack that would extend OpenSesame’s capabilities to rolling code systems, as well. And if he figures out a way to hack rolling codes, no one’s garages will be safe.
“It’s a sticky situation. I haven’t even figured out what I’m supposed to do to my own garage,” Kamkar says. “I don’t have a great solution for anyone, including myself.”