Recall Issued After Hackers Prove They Can Control New Jeeps
Fiat Chrysler is no stranger to recalls but last week’s recall notice of 1.4 million Jeeps was unusual, even for an industry beset with technical problems.
The world’s seventh largest automaker issued a recall notice for 1.4 million vehicles to fix what was described as a “software hole” that has allowed hackers to break into some SUVs and control vital functions electronically.
The recall raised the alarming prospect that hackers could control a vehicle on the road via a laptop miles away, causing it to crash or hurt drivers and passengers in other vehicles on the road.
The vulnerability was demonstrated to WIRED by security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek earlier this month when they wirelessly hacked a Jeep, taking over its dashboard functions, steering, transmission and brakes.
“We could have easily done the same thing on one of the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable vehicles on the road,” Miller told Computerworld.
The hackers successfully used a cellular connection to the Jeep’s entertainment system to access other control systems.
Miller and Valasek later shared their cyber security work with Fiat Chrysler, which issued a software patch to fix the hole, even if drivers were left to their own devices to install the patch – a process typically be done by downloading the patch to a USB drive.
In explaining the voluntary recall, FCA said it plans to update U.S. vehicles equipped with 2013-2015 UConnect head unit systems.
“Further, FCA US has applied network-level security measures to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report,” the company said in a statement. “These measures – which required no customer or dealer actions – block remote access to certain vehicle systems and were fully tested and implemented within the cellular network on July 23, 2015.”
Vehicle owners can also visit the FCA’s software update website to determine if their vehicle is included in the recall. They will need to input their Vehicle Identification Number (VINs).
The vehicles affected by the recall are equipped with 8.4-in UConnect touchscreens. They are:
- 2013-2015 Dodge Viper specialty vehicles;
- 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups;
- 2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs;
- 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs;
- 2014-2015 Dodge Durango SUVs;
- 2015 Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans;
- And 2015 Dodge Challenger sports coupes.
Miller expressed skepticism about the fix saying he does not believe there is a really secure way for computers to communicate and to protect them from determined hackers.
Just days after the trouble with software on some Jeeps was revealed, federal regulators hit Fiat Chrysler with a $105 million fine and ordered further action over defects.
The company has been ordered by regulators to buy back from customers in excess of 500,000 Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles in the largest action of its kind in U.S. history as part of a deal with safety regulators to settle legal problems in about two dozen recalls.
The automaker also faces a record civil fine of up to $105 million. We have previously written about a danger in older Jeeps that has been linked to fires and deaths. Owners of more than a million older Jeeps with vulnerable rear-mounted gas tanks will be allowed to trade them in or be paid by Chrysler to have the vehicles repaired.
“The settlement is the latest sign that auto safety regulators are taking a more aggressive approach toward companies that fail to disclose defects or don’t properly conduct a recall,” noted Fox News.
The Ram pickups have defective steering parts that can cause drivers to lose control. It’s another potentially life-threatening defect on Chrysler’s most popular model. Fiat Chrysler agreed to the buyback because some previous repairs have failed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Owners also have the option of getting the pickups repaired, the agency said in documents released Sunday.
Defects in the automotive industry have made headlines over the last 18 months as General Motors has made massive recalls as well as numerous models of cars that are equipped with potentially lethal Takata air bags.
If you have been hurt due to a defect in a car, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 today for a free consultation.