For several years now, more and more automobile manufacturers have been installing systems for digital car keys. But: Is the technology future-proof or even a security risk?

Digitalization has also changed our vehicles significantly. While a few decades ago there were analogue instruments, CD drives and only mirrors, there are now digital displays, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and parking assistants. But unlocking cars is now also easier. Because a key in your hand is no longer necessarily necessary.

On the one hand, there is the function that a key just has to be within reach. All you have to do is touch the door handle. On the other hand, some car manufacturers already make car keys available via smartphone. Car manufacturers rely on different technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth. But are such systems really safe?

Digital car keys: CCC develops manufacturer-independent solution

In an interview with The Verge Daniel Knobloch, board member of the CCC, revealed what could happen next with digital alternatives. The CCC (Car Connectivity Consortium) is an association of smartphone and vehicle manufacturers. It is currently developing standards for systems without physical keys. Safety also plays a crucial role.

Ultimately, security systems are easier to implement when both sides (smartphone and car companies) work on a solution. In this way, the consortium would like to avoid different protocols for different vehicles.

A chip on the smartphone uses a cryptographic key to calculate the access codes for the car. The device then sends this to the vehicle.

Smartphone battery empty? No problem for NFC

The transport is also encrypted and offers additional security features. If hackers gain access to the device and send the command to open the car, the system calculates the distance from the smartphone to the vehicle based on the response time. If this exceeds a critical value, unlocking is not successful.

If the device ever stops working, there is no need to worry. NFC is always an alternative. All that is required is for the owner to hold their cell phone on the door handle. By leveraging the technology, automakers are also ensuring that old smartphones can serve as keys.

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