Digital car key
Automotive & Integrated Mobility

Digital Car Keys

With car keys going digital, car owners can open their cars with just their smartphone. This works via an installed app of the car manufacturer and transmission via Near Field Communication (NFC).

Which leaves the question: Can you hack digital car keys?

Car manufacturers have considered this, and in order to provide adequate security, have implemented several cyber security mechanisms into the process. A suitable solution uses cryptographic technology to prevent the secret keys from being accessible to third parties. This is because the digitalization of cryptography has resulted in keys becoming more in line with digital security systems and less about physical units.

For example, the use of a Public Key Infrastructure ensures the authenticity of the devices by issuing and managing certificates. These certificates work with asymmetric encryption methods. For the secure transmission of key information and safeguarding the digital key itself, tokenization can also be used. This way, the key is replaced by a token during the locking / or unlocking process. As tokens change, these will have no value to external parties if they are intercepted.

Explore the different applications from Utimaco to see how we can improve the use case of digital car keys.


Applications for securing digital car keys


General Purpose Hardware Security Modules

Enables key generation, storage, and exchange. Addresses various performance levels and physical security requirements while fulfilling compliance and regulatory mandates.


Key Injection

Secures payment processes and identities of smart devices by injecting keys generated by HSMs.



Replacing sensitive data with non-sensitive tokens enables secure business operations without sharing sensitive information.


Public Key Infrastructures

Establishes trust relationships between connected entities such as devices, networks, applications and users. PKI is a long-proven technology providing the foundation for secure authentication, confidentiality in communication, and the integrity of data generated and exchanged.

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