Currently reading: Major manufacturers reveal plans to make car keys obsolete
Digital keys are being developed for smartphones by a consortium making up 70% of the automotive industry, with keys – as we know them – phased out

Digital keys stored on smartphones could replace easier-to-hack traditional car keys, as automotive cybersecurity is ramped up amid advances in technology. 

A group of companies accounting for 70% of the world’s car industry, including Audi, BMW, Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, PSA Group and Volkswagen, as well as 60% of the smart device market, including Alpine, Apple, LG, Panasonic and Samsung, have formed the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and revealed how the tech would work. 

The digital keys will use the same tech as that in contactless payments via smartphones and is harder to hack than the current signal tech used in car keys. 

These keys can lock and unlock cars, as well as engage with vehicles fitted with push-button start without the need of a fob. The CCC aims to standardise the tech, allowing it to be adopted across the industry. 

Car-sharing schemes are of particular importance as the industry moves away from traditional ownership. Shared cars, car subscription services and other mobility schemes are predicted to dominate sales in the long run. Volvo, for example, aims for 50% of its sales to be subscription-based by 2025.

The CCC has five objectives for the digital keys in relation to security: 

  • Trustworthiness: potential thieves cannot create false signals to the car
  • Completeness: thieves cannot tamper with messages by removing them or parts of them
  • Freshness: thieves cannot replicate old messages
  • Binding: thieves cannot pretend to be previous users
  • Independence: the messages are unrelated to anything else but their intended purpose.

With similar devices being investigated by some manufacturers already, the tech is expected to land before the end of the decade. 


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Jeremy 27 June 2018

Yet more

Unnecessary and superfluous tech, and yet more to go wrong. Thank god I still have my 2CV!

Bar room lawyer 26 June 2018

Call me old fashioned

I use my key to lock the house, then walk a few yards to the car and open it with the key. I do hve my phone in my pocket, but as that phone will not lock the house, this idea is pointless.

rare 26 June 2018

Stupid idea. The most secure

Stupid idea. The most secure system is an old fashioned key. 

What happens if I lose my phone? Battery goes dead? Bloody stupid idea this.