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COMPUTING

From...

3Com's Palm III: A skeleton key?

December 15, 1998
Web posted at: 1:30 PM EST

by Kathleen Ohlson

(IDG) -- Many people find 3Com Corp.'s Palm III organizer useful for all sorts of chores, including checking E-mail and storing addresses. But the handheld device may make some tasks a bit too easy, the company has discovered.

3Com is investigating the possibility that its organizers are being used to break into cars, the company said in a statement.

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Some consumers have added software to their Palms that lets them use the device as a remote control for their TV set. That software can also unlock their car doors if their auto is equipped with infrared locks, 3Com said.

"Car manufacturers have also been well aware of this risk for a long time," the company said in its statement. "The technology that allows the Palm III organizer or a universal remote control to communicate with and learn from a television set is no different than the technology that allows a wireless key fob to communicate and learn from the infrared lock on an automobile," 3Com said.

3Com, in Santa Clara, Calif., said it knows of no instances of car thefts caused by Palm III or other infrared-equipped products.

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