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Digital Car Keys: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?


Digital car keys are gradually gaining popularity in Canada for their convenience, flexibility, and advanced security features. With over 30 car brands, including BMW, Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia, offering models equipped with digital keys, this technology is becoming increasingly accessible. These keys, which replace traditional physical keys and fobs, are operated through smartphone apps and utilize technologies like NFC, UWB, and BLE for authentication, enhancing security and eliminating reliance on batteries.

Concerns and Advantages

Despite earning praise from manufacturers and tech enthusiasts, concerns about theft persist. However, digital keys offer advantages such as automatic locking/unlocking and remote sharing of access. They are also resilient against common theft methods like relay attacks. However, vulnerabilities remain, as demonstrated by potential Bluetooth relay attacks on Tesla vehicles. While insurance premiums aren’t directly affected by digital keys yet, this may change as their impact on vehicle safety and security becomes clearer.

Overall Assessment

Overall, digital keys present a promising blend of convenience and security. However, users must understand their technology and take necessary precautions to protect their smartphones. The convenience of digital keys lies in their ability to lock, unlock, and start the vehicle using a smartphone app. They offer features like automatic locking when the user moves away from the vehicle and remote access sharing with family and friends. Digital keys are also more secure than traditional keys, utilizing advanced authentication technologies like NFC, UWB, and BLE. However, concerns about theft persist, as demonstrated by potential vulnerabilities like Bluetooth relay attacks on Tesla vehicles.

Insurance premiums are not directly impacted by digital keys yet. However, their impact on vehicle safety and security may influence insurance rates in the future. Despite these concerns, digital keys offer significant benefits in terms of convenience, security, and flexibility, making them an appealing option for many car owners. As digital key technology continues to evolve, it will be important for users to stay informed about potential security risks and take steps to protect their vehicles and personal information.
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