The availability of the
Car Connectivity Consortium® (CCC) digital key release 3.0 specification has made proprietary
smartphone car access a thing of the past. The worldwide cross-industry
standard has ushered in a trend towards standardized smartphone-based car
Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE),
Near Field Communication (NFC)
and secure element technologies.
This upward trend of digital key usage also applies to CC-certified secure
elements. Since they are mandated in smartphones and are often desired on the
vehicle-side to provide an extra level of security, secure elements play a
prominent role in the new smart access ecosystems.
CC-certified secure elements in smartphones, smart fobs and smart cards for
Digital Keys for the Vehicle-Side
CCC digital keys for the vehicle-side often feature a
JavaCard Open Platform (JCOP) applet for highly secure and performant CCC digital key
management in a security-certified environment. It is the counterpart to the
secure element in the smartphone where the CCC digital key applet is also
If the smartphone battery is running low during a journey, NFC technology is
required to ensure backup entry and start functionality. Because of this, NFC
technology is mandated to be CCC standard compliant. This also drives the
trend of adding secure NFC enabled smart cards and smart fobs, extending the
car access system of a car OEM. In addition, similar applets can run on a
smart card or smart fob just as they can on a smartphone. NXP’s
NCJ38A secure element
is an example of a vehicle-side CCC digital key.
Digital Keys for the Smart Fob
For the smart fob, which will soon leverage NFC, BLE and UWB technologies
within a system, NXP recently announced the
NCJ37x Automotive Secure Element
with hardware EAL6+ certification and a CCC digital key compatible applet. Its
passive NFC interface can serve as the access and start backup, even when the
key fob’s battery is fully drained. And with its strong security capability,
the Secure Element can be responsible for high-secure digital key Management
within the smart fob system when communication is done via BLE and UWB. The
connection to the BLE and UWB ICs can be implemented using NCJ37x’s SPI or
Discover how we enable secure, robust and scalable car access
Smart Car Access.
Secure End-to-End Communication
Within a CCC digital key compatible smart fob, the NCJ37x Secure Element will,
for example, hold the digital key of a specific car, or generate a UWB ranging
key to ensure secure distance calculation to the car for passive entry and
start functionalities. NXP can supply both, the NCJ37x Secure Element in the
fob and the NCJ38A Secure Element on the car side. Using NXP’s trust
provisioning service, the required certificates and other credentials can be
securely flashed on the NCJ37x and NCJ38A secure elements. This will allow
secure end-to-end (E2E) communication between the fob Secure Element and
car-side secure elements and its CCC digital key compatible applets.
“NCJ37x is not only limited to the CCC digital key compatible applet, with
its flexible JCOP OS, it can also run many other secure applets, such as an
applet supporting a proprietary car OEM authentication protocol, or even
NXP’S MIFARE emulation applet. If customers want to develop their own
applets, NXP offers a sophisticated JCOP toolchain to ease their
Marc Manninger, NXP Semiconductors.
Extending Capability to Car-Side Applications
NXP’s NCJ37x secure element can also serve several car-side applications, such
as secure car-to-cloud communication, securing battery management systems
(BMS), or authentication for wireless charging modules.
For wireless charging, the secure element comes with a Qi 1.3 applet and the
capability of secure personalization. As a
Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Manufacturing Certificate Authority (MCA), NXP can securely provision
the required certificates for a Qi 1.3 charger in a secure environment. With
the NCJ37x CC EAL6+ certified hardware, the Qi 1.3 authentication applet and
NXP’s MCA trust provisioning service, NXP offers a full solution for
implementing the authentication protocol for a WPC Qi 1.3 compliant wireless
charger. Typically these chargers are also the in-car NFC reader module, which
is needed for CCC digital key NFC-based engine start.
Taking Digital Keys to the Next Level
Secure elements are an important part of the digital key ecosystem and finding
the right solution is crucial. With its versatile feature set, the NCJ37x is a
great fit for the next generation of smart access key fobs and many more
highly-secure automotive applications.