Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Cars in the U.S. After Jeep Gets Hacked

Fiat Chrysler is in hot water right now. The automaker has recalled 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. after security researchers reported that one of its cars not only could be hacked, it already had been.

On Tuesday, tech magazine Wired published a report claiming that hackers had remotely taken over control of a Jeep Cherokee through the internet-connected entertainment system. It’s pretty horrifying to think that control of one’s car can be wrested away by strangers in a completely different place, so it’s not exactly surprising that Chrysler issued this voluntary recall, in order to prevent this from ballooning into worse press than it is already. If someone were to be killed due to a hacker compromising the software in an internet-enabled vehicle, I could see Chrysler having to answer to higher authorities than shareholders.

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Cars in the U.S. After Jeep Gets Hacked

Credit: Fiat Chrysler

Naturally, Chrysler says they intend to update the software in all of the affected vehicles, and going on to say that they are considering this hacking a “criminal action”. In particular, Fiat Chrysler says that exploiting the flaw in the UConnect software “required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code”, which sounds an awful lot like they suspect this to be an inside job. And, to a certain extent, it makes sense that they would think so. That said, the NCC Group, an information assurance firm, recently published a report online that illustrated just how cheap and easy it would be to buy the parts needed to hack a car’s control system through its digital implementations. All in all, it’s a reminder that all this futuristic tech comes with a price measured in risk, and not just retail value.

On the plus side, at least, Fiat Chrysler claims they are “unaware of any injuries related to software exploitation”. Moreover, the recall is intended to assist customers with the “ongoing software distribution that insulates connected vehicles from remote manipulation”. Granted, a lot of this could have been avoided had they done a more rigorous test of the software in their vehicles before releasing them to the public. But I suppose this is a lesson for other automobile companies. It’s cheaper to do what’s necessary to get it right the first time, rather than rush it out and risk having to recall millions of cars later on down the road.

Anyhow, these are the cars affected by the recall:

2013-2015 MY 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 MY Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans
2015 Dodge Challenger sports coupes

Is your car one of those affected? What do you think of the dangers to car security? Is this an overreaction or a valid concern? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on car tech, check out the latest on Google’s new self-driving cars.

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