FCA Secure Gateway is a lock on increased vehicle electronics security

Aug. 25, 2021
Tools that can connect to these vehicles’ systems are the key to open access
Jaltest Cojali Logo 6126d3d335fcf

When connectivity flows, technology has to adapt the fastest, and the most clever, to prevent any security breach or unwanted data manipulation. And as with all industries, it has happened in the automobile industry. A few years back, internet connections made their way into cars, putting in jeopardy the security and safety of the owner and the vehicle.

By then, a few hackers were able to go from easily stealing the driver's contact list, to taking control over the car’s diagnostics messaging system steering the vehicle off the road. Definitely “No Bueno.”

But, how do these things happen? An internet connection can impact the vehicle’s vulnerability to the extent that it can be controlled remotely by a third party. By the same process that occurs using a diagnostics tool to modify the vehicle’s performance, hackers can use incoming signals to steal information hosted in the driver’s onboard computer or demand the ECM to cut off the transmission.

With how the ECM, sensors, and more have evolved, connectivity is spreading to all kinds of vehicles, making its way now to pickups and utility trucks. Manufacturers have started to put some measures in place to protect their vehicles and the safety of their customers. One of the most popular in the U.S., the Ram, is protected with what it is called a Secure Gateway (SGW) Module that prevents any unauthorized diagnostics and security attacks to connect to the control units.

The SGW works as a firewall that prevents the vehicle from being controlled by any incoming signal. This Gateway controls who can access the electronic modules and who can send messages and modify these modules. However, SGW does not restrict access to diagnostics but prevents non-registered and non-authenticated users from doing more than reading codes and monitoring live data. Therefore, advanced diagnostics such as parameter settings, calibrations, regens, etc. (that is, anything that stands by for what is needed for an actual repair) are only available for users with active credentials entered through a verified diagnostics tool.

The question is, who can have these credentials? In the beginning, only dealers were able to have these, but things have changed. Now, any repair shop, big or small, can receive these credentials. Then the technician needs to use a diagnostics tool that has been certified as a verified diagnostics tool by a regulator such as Jaltest. The user will then tie his tool to his profile to be able to access the SGW.

For Rams, Stellantis has partnered with AutoAuth for the authentication process needed to access its 2018 and newer pickups available to any shop.

To service certain vehicles such as these Rams, shops need to update their tools to have one that can connect to these vehicles’ systems.

Jaltest makes it seamless and makes it possible to have full repair control on FCA (now Stellantis) SGW vehicles now in the market. When the technician connects the diagnostics tool to a SGW-protected vehicle such as a Ram, a pop-up menu will appear in the diagnostics screen that informs the user that the vehicle is protected by SGW.

After this note, the technician will find the following window that will allow him or her to create a FCA user profile (if one does not yet exist) or type in the credentials to get authenticated.

The registration process looks something like this. After submitting the contact information of the technician and shop, the technician will need to pair his or her diagnostics tool to this profile.

After authentication, the user is then allowed to access the systems and proceed with the diagnosis and repair. Safety and repairs go hand in hand!
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