Hacked Mattel Toy Can Open Garage Doors in Seconds

Security researcher Samy Kamkar can crack some garage door codes using a hacked Mattel children’s toy called IM-ME.

LOS ANGELES – A security researcher has revealed that a hacked Mattel children’s toy can become a universal garage door opener.

Some garages are protected by a code that is equivalent to a two-character security password, WIRED reports. Samy Kamkar, a serial hacker who works as an independent developer and consultant, has created Open Sesame, which he claims can crack the code in seconds.

Kamkar built Open Sesame from a discontinued Mattel toy called the IM-ME, a little pocket computer that let kids chat with nearby friends. Kamkar was able to hack the device using an open source hardware attachment and a cheap antenna.

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Kamkar hacked the small device so that it could crack the code of any fixed code garage door system. Fixed-code garage-door-openers have only a dozen binary lock switches that are permanently set at the factory, meaning there are only 4,096 possible codes to that need to be tested in order to gain access.

An ordinary garage-door opener, cycling through all the 4,096 combinations could take at least 29 minutes, according to Kamkar. However, the hacking tools developed for the IM-me allowed him to get that time down to less than 10 seconds, Tom’s Guide reports.

Garage door openers that use a “rolling code” that generates a new code every time are also vulnerable.

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Kamkar first used the device at his newly built Los Angeles-based condo, where he discovered that his own garage door was vulnerable to Open Sesame’s attack. He could not identify the device’s manufacturer, WIRED reports.

He later tested the device on two of his friends’ Linear garage openers, and it worked both times. Kamkar has released a list of brands and models that are allegedly vulnerable on his website.

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In the video below, Kamkar offers tips to help people determine if their garage door is vulnerable or not.


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