Chrysler’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), has recalled 1.4 million Dodge, Ram and Jeep vehicles to address software hacking vulnerabilities after a media report last month described a Jeep’s radio, windshield wipers and transmission were manipulated remotely by hackers. FCA said it will update the recalled vehicles’ software in order to install new security features and said it has enacted additional network-wide anti-hacking measures.
A Wired Magazine reporter described in an article that his Jeep came to a halt on a highway after hackers commandeered the vehicle and remotely shut off his transmission. The reporter had asked the hackers to access his vehicle’s software for the article. Chrysler said in its recall announcement that it doesn’t know of any instances of its vehicles being hacked, aside from this “media demonstration.”
Following FCA’s announcement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that it has opened an investigation into the effectiveness of the software updates the automaker is offering its customers. NHTSA has opened a recall query investigation to further assess this problem. NHTSA said opening this investigation “will allow NHTSA to better assess the effectiveness of the remedy proposed by Fiat Chrysler.”
According to the automaker, vehicles affected by the recall include 2013-2015 Dodge Vipers and Dodge Rams, 2014-2015 Dodge Durangos, Jeep Grand Cherokees and Cherokee sport utility vehicles and 2015 Chrysler 200s, Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers and Dodge Challengers. All have 8.4-inch touchscreens. In its recall notice, Chrysler said that in addition to the 1.4-million-vehicle software update, it has implemented anti-hacking measures across its network in an attempt to block remote access to certain vehicle systems.
In his Wired article, journalist Andy Greenberg described driving his Jeep Cherokee 70 miles per hour down the highway when the men he asked to hack his car remotely made the vehicles’ vents blast cold air, turned the radio volume all the way up and killed the transmission, causing his car to roll to a stop. The same day Greenberg’s story was published, Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car Act, or SPY Car Act in Congress. The legislation would direct NHTSA to establish minimum federal safety and privacy standards and a system for rating how well automakers’ vehicles protect against hacking and other privacy concerns.
The SPY Car Act would direct NHTSA, in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to develop cybersecurity standards for vehicles, aimed at preventing and mitigating hacking and ensuring data security. The legislation would also ask federal vehicle safety regulators to create a “cyber dashboard,” which would evaluate how well each vehicle model protects drivers’ security, information that would be displayed on the window sticker of all new cars.
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