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Fraunhofer Makes Use of QR codes to Enable Secure Sharing of NFC Keys

We have talked repeatedly about how QR codes and near-field communication should not be pitted against each other. We have talked time and again about how these two technologies can instead be used to complement each other or about how both can be used to give consumers an alternative.

Now, we came across another great example of QR code and NFC technology being applied to work together side-by-side.

Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology now uses QR codes to provide a secure way of sharing virtual keys that are stored on NFC phones.

Fraunhofer has earlier launched Key2Share, which is an NFC-based solution that allows individuals – particularly employees – to access offices and other enterprise premises using digital access control tokens that are stored on their Android mobile device. Through these virtual access keys, employees can open doors to offices and other restricted rooms by using NFC-enabled Android smartphones instead of physical keys.

In simpler terms, Key2Share is a solution for NFC-enabled locks. This app turns smartphones into door openers for rooms, offices, and even cars. The app manages an individual’s access rights to certain premises. The Key2Share server issues the virtual keys and sends them to the registered user’s mobile device over the air.

The cryptographic keys are protected from malware by special security architecture on the smartphone protects.

Now, Fraunhofer has found that QR codes are also a good and secure way to share these virtual keys. Once the access key is stored on a user’s NFC phone, this can be shared to colleagues, employees, or friends who are also registered with Key2Share simply by sending a QR code through MMS, e-mail, or even regular mail.

The two-dimensional codes can be automatically generated with the Key2Share app and the user can apply some restrictions so that the virtual key can be used only at a particular time, or date. The keys can be shared between two smartphones, too, with one device displaying the QR code and the other scanning it.

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