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Belgian company invents ‘unhackable’ car key

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Imec, the Louvain R&D and innovation hub, will present an ‘unhackable’ car key at FutureSummits 2019 in Antwerp on 14-15 May. “The issue is a real problem for automotive manufacturers,” said Kathleen Philips, director of Imec’s ‘Internet Of things’ department, to NewMobility. “German mobility organisation Adac tested 237 luxury vehicles, of which 230 could be hacked through the key.”

Car keys that use a digital signal have been proven to give easy access for hackers, who can not only open the door but take control of the entire car.

Imec has now used Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to prevent hackers from manipulating the signal. “BLE has a low energy consumption, low cost and extreme security against hackers,” said Philips to NewMobility. “We now want to have our technology evaluated by external security experts to prove its effectiveness,” she added.

Imec is already collaborating with different chip developers and suppliers and confirmed the keen interest of the automotive industry.

“In the long term, car manufacturers want to make opening vehicles with your smartphone safe as well,” said Philips. “Smartphones already carry BLE, and can, therefore, count on the support of a vast number of industrial ecosystems,” she added that the key could, for example, include a navigation or tire pressure monitoring system.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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