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Cars, hotels use smartphone apps to go keyless

Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 17, 2016

DENVER, Colo. -- You could call this the 'keyless' generation. Smartphones are now taking the place of traditional keys in our everyday lives, leaving some wondering about the security risks of the technology takeover.

Big name automakers, like Ford, plan to debut keyless vehicles in the 2017 model year. Ford's new app is focused on making the car an extension of its owner, and the owner's cell phone.

"You could easily see a world with no keys," said Wade Jackson, Ford Fusion Marketing Manager.

No keys or fobs are necessary to lock, unlock, or start the 2017 Fusion.

"You can actually set it like an alarm, so that every morning if you leave at 6:30, your car is nice and warm waiting for you," said Jackson.

And, it's not just the auto industry making the switch, hotels are doing it, too. Starwood Hotels and Resorts use keyless entry through smartphone technology and their Starwood Preferred Guest app. 

Customers can use the app to bypass the front desk and open their reserved rooms.

But security experts say the convenience may not be worth the risk.

"We really wanted the convenience, but now we have to worry about another whole aspect of just how exposed does this particular convenience make us?" said Dr. Steven Beaty from Metropolitan State University Denver.

Beaty says the technology to protect your keys on your smartphone still needs to improve in order to keep up with hackers.

"It's no longer we're losing a key or a set of keys," said Beaty. "We're losing all of them, and we might not even be aware that we've lost them."

It could take five to 10 years before all major hotel chains transition to 'keyless' technology.