Secure Immobilizers – Not to be Taken for Granted

Steinbeis experts work with partners to develop a method for protecting cargo bikes

Electronic immobilizers are used in vehicles to protect electronic car keys (smart keys or keyless entry devices). It is already known that these protective systems sometimes fail to work properly. Experience in the United States has shown that roughly 150 million vehicles could simply be driven off without permission using “the most basic technical equipment.” This was the motivation for the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Identifi cation Media & Identification Management to join forces with three partners and come up with an independent solution that works with any system.

The chips used in immobilizers have a digital signature, a technology that is designed to only allow certain users to access sensitive information stored on the chips. Immobilizers typically lie at the heart of all electronic vehicle controls, making them the apple of any vehicle producer’s eye. But according to the experts, these apples are relatively easy to bite into. They have security issues, which do not just affect cars and trucks but also vehicles like cargo bikes, plus the freight they carry. It was these vehicles that were made the focal point of a research project carried out by the medium-sized companies baimos technologies, Roc-Ket Cargo Bikes and Weber Technik under the leadership of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Identifi cation Media & Identifi cation Management.

One development objective that was derived from customer requirements was to signifi cantly enhance security and encryption versus conventional, widely known locking systems. A key premise of development came from demands of a logistical nature, namely that the security system should work across multiple areas. So it should not just be useful for the cargo bikes themselves but also for the containers they convey. These are sometimes fi xed to bikes and trailers; sometimes they are detachable. Another important criterion was linking riders with their bikes, allowing riders who removed goods from containers on their cargo bikes to identify themselves and which items were removed. The technical solution developed for the project is essentially based on a mobile security technology called BlueID, which is supplied by BAIMOS technologies. Taking this as their starting point, the project team developed a solution called biketID, a new and innovative way to offer high security for cargo vehicles – and of course cargo bike fl eets typically used in inner- city traffic.

biketID makes it possible to release Roc-Ket immobilizers installed on bikes or trailers. It also unlocks all kinds of containers and is not just reliable but also secure, even when used with a smartphone. Authorized users are granted encrypted, digitally unique access authorization for a specifi c bike or a specifi c container. This authorization is sent to the user’s mobile phone. Users can then safely open and release the miniature electronic locks and locking devices using a smartphone. They do not even need Internet access for this. biketID is signifi cantly more secure and better encrypted than conventional locking systems. After removing items from a cargo box, users have to close it again and receive a closing notifi cation before customer data can be confi rmed. This makes it impossible to manipulate or sabotage data. The approach marks a signifi cant leap forward for the four project partners in innovation terms. Integrating BlueID software into the Roc- Ket portfolio creates a quick and secure link to allow smart devices such as the cargo bike to communicate with users’ smartphones or smartwatches. The smart devices independently check if the smartphone is authorized to communicate with the bike. Only then will it permit commands to be submitted like “Unlock.” Handing out physical authorization devices is no longer needed: Instead of requiring smartcards, tokens or electronic keys, people can use their own smartphone to access the system’s security modules.

Authorization is issued completely digitally so there is no need to hand over physical objects or make special trips. This allows for the use of biketID in combination with many other kinds of access control systems. As a result, it can be integrated into objects at the destination, front doors, or specifi c parking lots – and simply opened using a smartphone. biketID can be integrated seamlessly into existing authorization management systems using standard APIs. The management system defi - nes which users and smartphone should be granted which access authorization. Sharing authorizations is also possible throughout the world, depending on the location.

Managers of vehicle fl eets have a complete overview of vehicles accessed and delivery personnel, making it possible to use a variety of completely new, user-friendly functions in the logistics chain.

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