An electronic key fob are used for activating such things as remote keyless entry systems on motor vehicles. Early electric key fobs operated using infrared and required a clear line-of-sight to function. These could be copied using a programmable remote control. More recent models use challenge-response authentication over radio frequency, so these are harder to copy and do not need line-of-sight to operate. Programming these remotes sometimes requires the automotive dealership to connect a diagnostic tool, but many of them can be self-programmed by following a sequence of steps in the vehicle and usually requires at least one working key.
Key fobs are increasingly used in apartment buildings and condominium buildings for access to common areas (i.e., lobby doors, storage areas, fitness room, pool). These usually contain a passive RFID tag. The fob operates in much the same manner as a proximity card to communicate (via a reader pad) with a central server for the building, which can be programmed to allow access only to those areas in which the tenant or owner is permitted to access, or only within certain time frames.
Telecommuters may also use an electronic device known as a key fob that provides one part of a three way match to log in over an unsecure network connection to a secure network. This kind of key fob may have a keypad on which the user must enter a PIN to retrieve an access code, or it could be a display-only device such as a VPN token that algorithmically generates security codes as part of a challenge-response authentication system.
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