Tech E: The Key to Alphabet Soup

Jan. 1, 2020
If you have attempted to buy a key for one of your customers from a dealer or locksmith lately, you may have found that the standard operating procedure (SOP) has changed: The result being you, the technician and your customer being told that it ain'
The Key to Alphabet Soup

If you have attempted to buy a key for one of your customers from a dealer or locksmith lately, you may have found that the standard operating procedure (SOP) has changed: The result being you, the technician and your customer being told that it ain't that easy anymore. The occurrences of thieves getting a vehicle's identification number (VIN) and having a key made to steal the car are a major contributor to change in SOP. 

So now what, you ask? Behind the scenes, a group of committed folks from the OEMs, ASA, ALOA, NICB, and NASTF have been working on a solution lovingly referred to as the SDRM. I know, now you need a secret decoder ring - so I have created one for you below:

Key Vehicle Security AcronymsOEM Original Equipment ManufacturerFor those of you who do not work in the repair industry, OEMs are the folks who build the cars to begin with. For example, Chevrolet or Toyota.ASAAutomotive Service AssociationThe oldest and largest trade association representing independent auto repair shops in the country. ALOA - Associated Locksmiths of AmericaOne of the largest international associations for security professionals.NICB National Insurance Crime BureauThe nation's leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud.NASTF National Automotive Service Task ForceThis group is a not-for-profit, no-dues task force established to facilitate the identification and correction of gaps in the availability and accessibility of automotive service information, service training, diagnostic tools and equipment, and communications for the benefit of automotive service professionals. NASTF is a voluntary, cooperative effort among the automotive service industry, the equipment and tool industry, and automotive manufacturers.SDRM Secure Data Release Model, the reason for this story.

Not so long ago, a group known as the NASTF Security Committee set out to resolve the escalating and ongoing issues facing consumers when it was necessary to interface with vehicle security systems, replace keys or in some cases replace a failed electrical component on a vehicle. 

Repair technicians were not the only ones facing these problems. Locksmiths were faced with developing additional skill sets to deal with the hardware and software that often supports a simple thing like cutting a new ignition key. OEMs were concerned that if they did not hold the vehicle information close and secure, thieves would target their brand. Consumers would be afraid for their investment, and insurance companies would make insuring the cars expensive. 

For example, there was a time when BMW vehicles were changing hands faster than the cars could be reported stolen, as thieves would steal from other thieves. Most of us remember when you had something like a 70 percent chance of your Corvette being stolen. The manufacturers remember that time, too, and have made a significant investment toward making their cars much more difficult to steal - despite how Hollywood often shows someone tearing a wire loom out from under the dash of a new Taurus and knowing exactly which two wires to touch together.... You get my drift. 

SDRM optimizes complex concerns So here we sit with lots of problems and not many solutions. The parties involved think they have a solution that won't make everyone happy, but will facilitate serving the consumer while protecting their security. That solution is the Secure Data Release Model.  Want more info?Visit to view a SDRM demonstration as well as other information on the topic.  If you are visiting Las Vegas for Industry Week in November, the NASTF meeting will include a report on the SDRM, as beta testing should be well under way by then. Approved for trials and beta testing by NASTF back in February 2007, the SDRM takes a little effort to get your head around, so let's get started on that now. Future articles will find yours truly as a beta tester of this new technology, and I will dutifully report my experience to you. Clearly, the first requirement you need to satisfy is to provide security system information is some way to see that the end user is not the very thief you are trying to avoid. SDRM requires that users be registered with the manufacturer and the NICB. When you apply to use these systems, you will have to provide information and submit  to a background check.  Time will tell how long you will have to wait once you apply. Considering the large database ties this system will have, it could be a very short wait time. This is information I will report as I learn more and the system goes online for beta users.  Next, you need  the repair information. The manufacturers that are participating in this initial launch already have Web sites for repair information so this will, it appears, be an extension of those existing software solutions.  The last requirement  is a watchdog tracking requests and making sure that they do not result in vehicle theft. The NICB will provide this part of the puzzle. 5 easy steps So here is the way it will go when you replace a component, for example, that requires a reinitialization of the onboard security system:
1. Following the procedure outlined by the manufacturer, you replace the part
2. Next, you connect your scan tool to reinitialize the component. 
3. Let's say that component calls for a code to be entered to authorize the security system to "install" the new part and release its death grip on the vehicle's ignition or fuel system. You, the now certified white hat professional, log onto that manufacturer's Web site and enter your user name and password to access the vehicle's security information. 
4. You provide the necessary information about the vehicle, and the code is provided for you. 
5. In the background, NICB, the manufacturer and ALOA computers are logging the specific vehicle identification and user information so that if the vehicle is reported stolen tomorrow morning, they know who to have the police visit. 
While I am delivering this in a lighthearted manner, there is no doubt that this is serious stuff - your user name and password must be guarded carefully to ensure both you and your customer are protected.  More information is to come. Until then, I'll buy a vowel.

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