Volkswagen protects virtual key sharing app with Trustonic Application Protection
February 2019 by Marc Jacob
Volkswagen is working with mobile cyber security firm Trustonic to enable customers to use smartphones to access their vehicles, and to securely share their digital car keys to grant access to others via a smartphone app. Volkswagen is using the Trustonic Application Protection (TAP) platform to secure the mobile app and ensure that sensitive information and key transfer requests are securely displayed to, and approved by, a real authenticated user on a trusted device and not by hackers or malware simulating a user or device.
“The smartphone is becoming the vehicle key of the future and our We Connect service is the interface for this today in the new Volkswagen Passat,” comments Alf Pollex, Head of Infotainment and Connected Car at Volkswagen AG. “The user installs the We Connect app on their smartphone which is then authorized via the Infotainment system with a Transaction Number. The Mobile Key will be compatible with Android-based Samsung devices. No mobile network connection is required to use the smartphone as a mobile key. All the user needs to do is place the smartphone near the door handle, in the same way as the current keyless locking and starting system ‘Keyless Access’ opens the Passat today. To start the engine, the smartphone is placed in a new compartment with an interface in front of the Passat’s gear knob. It is also possible to send the mobile key to friends or family via the app so that they can also use their smartphone as a key for the car.”
By protecting the virtual key application using TAP, Volkswagen is making use of Trustonic’s Trusted User Interface (TUI) feature to securely display information to the user. TUI ensures that only the authenticated user of the device can confirm the key transfer, and to do so safely in isolation from the device’s main operating system during the confirmation.
“Connected car innovations like Volkswagen’s project are exciting, but the risk of malicious hacking or malware attacks, including the possibility of vehicle theft, have serious ramifications,” adds Ben Cade, CEO at Trustonic. “Trustonic Application Protection is enabling the Volkswagen Digital Key team to develop their key sharing app with the strongest user authentication and advanced app protection, and to use features like our Trusted User Interface to give customers a frictionless user experience.”