FCA Issues Safety Recall Due to Cyber Threat

by Admin on July 31, 2015

FCA Cybersecurity Threat

Photo Credit: Wired.com

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) made history in July, becoming the first automotive company to issue a safety recall due to a cybersecurity threat. The scope of the voluntary recall covers about 1.4 million vehicles in the United States that are equipped with the 8.4 inch Uconnect touchscreen system. This recall by FCA shows that all auto manufacturers must take great care in ensuring that their infotainment systems cannot be compromised by hackers. Specifically, they must ensure that a vehicle cannot be remotely controlled by a hacker with malicious intent because the results could be disastrous.

The threat was discovered after two hackers named Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek created a video showcasing the results of their year-long research on this topic. The video shows a writer from Wired.com, Andy Greenberg, driving down the highway in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee when the hackers take control of the vehicle remotely from miles away. First, they demonstrate some simple things they can control remotely. They turn the fan to full blast, turn the radio to full volume, and turn on the windshield wipers. Next, they kill the engine remotely to showcase one of the more malicious functions that are possible. Finally, they disable the brakes and steer the vehicle slowly into a ditch to show the full range of what is possible with their code.

FCA responded quickly to the video. They issued a press release stating that network-level security measures had been applied since the video was released, which required no action from either dealers or customers. In the interest of safety, FCA also decided to issue a recall affecting 1.4 million vehicles. The good news is the recall will not require customers to have to give up their vehicle for any period of time. Affected customers will simply receive a USB stick in the mail with a software update that will be used to upgrade vehicle software and provide additional security features.

A list of affected vehicle models are as follows:

  • 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

This incident could result in a loss of confidence in FCA by consumers. FCA is not the only manufacturer with cybersecurity issues, but they have the unfortunate distinction now of being the first company to issue a recall because of these security issues. The most troubling part of this situation is that a vehicle could be controlled by a hacker who is nowhere near the vehicle being controlled. All auto manufacturers should be more concerned now that it has been shown that a security flaw can be exploited heavily. Overall, it is a good thing that this exploit was discovered by a couple of harmless hackers and not a more malicious group. Finally, It should result in greater security for all consumers now that it has been proven to manufacturers that this is a very real problem that needs to be addressed.

Click here to view the official press release from FCA regarding this issue.

Manvir Sangha
Junior SEO/PPC Analyst

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