Criminals can switch off burglar alarm systems at the touch of a button using an electronic device sold on Amazon, a Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal.
Thieves using the £109 hacking gadget can deactivate wireless burglar alarms within seconds by jamming the signal from battery-powered sensors around the home that would otherwise sound a siren, allowing them to discreetly gain entry.
Called YARD Stick One, the gadget is a hand-held USB stick with a small antenna that plugs into a laptop. Although the use of jamming devices in Britain is illegal, the device is freely available on Amazon with next-day delivery.
Criminals can switch off burglar alarm systems at the touch of a button using an electronic device sold on Amazon, a Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal
The Mail on Sunday purchased the YARD Stick One from Amazon and also bought a £149.99 ERA miGuard Wi-Fi alarm system from electronics store Maplin in order to carry out tests.
Customers can turn on the miGuard alarm using a remote control in person or remotely over wi-fi with a smartphone app.
When the device is triggered, it sounds an alarm at the property and sends a notification to the smartphone app, so homeowners are alerted remotely.
The MoS installed the alarm system in a house and, with the homeowner’s permission, used the YARD Stick One to jam the miGuard alarm from outside within a matter of seconds.
This was done by downloading a freely available computer code script – which gives the device instructions – and simply clicking a button on the laptop. It meant the alarm did not sound when we entered the property, nor did it send a notification through the smartphone app.
Thieves using the £109 hacking gadget can deactivate wireless burglar alarms within seconds by jamming the signal from battery-powered sensors around the home that would otherwise sound a siren, allowing them to discreetly gain entry
Ken Munro, founder of Pen Test Partners, which carries out cyber-security testing, said: ‘This issue won’t be confined to this brand alone as many wireless burglar alarms work in the same way.
‘It’s likely there are tens of thousands of wireless burglar alarms out there in people’s homes that are susceptible to this kind of attack.
The ‘burglar’ plugs the YARD Stick One into a laptop and, using a software script easily found and downloaded from the internet, jams the alarm system in moments.
‘Manufacturers should upgrade their security so this doesn’t happen. Consumers should look for “two-way” systems, which means the alarms can detect jamming attacks like this one.’
The use of a jammer is an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act.The MoS carried out its investigation in the public interest and alerted the manufacturer.
ERA said it did not know of any instances of the firm’s wireless alarms being jammed and that newer models with external sirens have been fitted with advanced jamming detection capability.
It added that the alarm tested by the MoS was less susceptible to jamming because it has no external siren and intruders would be unaware of its presence.
Michael Ossmann, founder of Great Scott Gadgets, said: ‘YARD Stick One gives wireless security researchers the ability to investigate a wide variety of weaknesses in digital radio systems including burglar alarms.’
Amazon declined to comment but a Maplin spokesman revealed that due to hacking concerns, MiGuard G5 alarm kits will be sold with an additional wireless intruder alarm from now on.