Hey, who hacked my BMW?
A client was being followed, every day he was followed. Ron’s noticed his movements from home, to work, to pick up his kids – he was followed. Ron is not the most observant, but he began to recognize 4 different cars that ended up in his rearview mirror day after day. He though he was being a bit paranoid – as he did keep a reasonable regular schedule and traveled similar routes – and, honestly – there are a lot of small white sedans and tan mini vans in southern Florida.
Thus, he admitted to bit of whimsy, when he decided to test his paranoia. Ron decided at the spur of the moment to drive from Ft Lauderdale down to Homestead , Florida. Now this may not mean much to our readers as over 70% of our readers are not in the US, but Homestead, Florida was nearly wiped off the map after Hurricane Andrew.
As you can see there are parts of Homestead that have never been rebuilt from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Andrew. So Ron drives to Homestead and within minutes one of the white sedans is following him, the white sedan followed him all the way down to Homestead and through several of the damaged and un-reconstructed neighborhoods. So, a car follows him on his fool’s errand to explore Homestead – this is not more just paranoia – something is, as they say “a foot”
Ron choose to hire a young man he is familiar with to dive his car. The night before he tells his office he is going to Tampa, Florida – some 250 miles (400 k) away and he will not be back until that evening. He also fills the car with gas that night, does a small shopping and returns home – all the time followed. What the followers may not have expected was that in the items he got from a store and loaded into the car, the guy who was going to drive the car the next morning, was concealed. Ron came home, drove into the garage, closed the garage door and unloaded the groceries and the next day’s driver.
At 7:30 am – the garage door opened, and the young man wearing the same hat and sunglass as the owner of the car, backed out of the driver way – and onto the street. Just after the young man left the familiar white sedan passed the front of the house and was off after his BMW.
Homestead Florida today – Google Maps Ron, maintaining appearance called into work a few moments later to “check in” and all was fine. Ron than just sat and waited in the silence of his house in an inside room away from windows. In about an hour he heard noises and voices both at his backdoor and on his roof. A few minutes later the backdoor opened and in walked three men. The three men began a very careful search of the house. Ron slipped from room to room watching the three men searching his home and still hearing men on the roof doing something. A cell phone of one of the intruders vibrated – the conversation was once sided but clear – the BMW and presumable Ron, was on “Alligator Alley” headed west. When the called ended the intruder laughed and said “The idiot wouldn’t be back here for hours – we have all day”. It was at this point that Ron chose to introduce himself to the intruders. Quietly, and carefully he raised his shotgun, pointed at the men and said “The idiot is still here.” The three guys laughed and turned and around saw the shotgun and froze.
They had a very polite conversation. Ron asked them why they were in his house and following him. They stammered something out – and Ron said fine I am calling the police if you are going to BS me. It was at this time a more clear answer came out. His ex-wife was a lying druggie and had told these fellows about the safe Ron kept in the house filled with cash and coins. It seems she helped the bad guys get access both to his BMW and the house and the office – so they could figure out where Ron kept cash and coins. Ron told the intruders that – yes indeed, he used to have a very large collection of coins and cash but all had to be sold or swapped to pay the legal bills during the divorce and subsequent child custody battles caused by the ex-wife and current druggie. The legal battles had lasted over 6 years.
Now, Ron had a question – what had they been doing. It seems the cornered thieves had done three things. They had hacked his home computer, his cell phone and his BMW. They slipped in once when he was at work to put on both some software and a key logger on his home computer. Sitting at a local restaurant, they used a Bluetooth enabled laptop to hack his iPhone and gained full access to all of his texts, recording, calendar, as well as access to live camera images and sounds. They gained access to his car at his place of work and started the car with a key they were able to obtain after viewing the VIN on the car – visible through most car’s windshields – and ordering the correct computer key from a dealership. While the car was on they used a Bluetooth device to hack his car’s computer system so they it would relay the cars exact location via Wi-Fi.
Ron asked – well than you should have known I have my phone here. They said yes, but guessed you called the office just as you left, and by accident you left the cell phone at the house as we could see the ceiling about your desk and we could near nothing.
Ron did something most of us would not have done, he asked what else was wired or bugged – nothing at the time, as the guys on the roof were trying to tap the phone line but had somehow been altered by the three intruders and fled. He asked if this was their word – they said it was, and he let them go with the admonishment – she is an ex-wife for a reason – she is a lying druggie – do not listen to lying druggies.
What she did not tell the very sophisticated team is that Ron is a very – very smart and determined man. A few ever best him – few.
I tell this story because it is both true, very interesting, and has a new point of illumination for me. Cars can be hacked and supply geo-location information live and on the fly to bad guys. As Executive Protection professionals we need to be aware of how technology can help us and how it can compromise our efforts.
This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Barron James Shortt, the Executive Director of the IBA. http://www.ibabodyguards.com