Imagine this. You’re driving on I-5 when all of a sudden your gas pedal is no longer responsive. Your wheel goes dead. You frantically check the gas meter – all looks fine. What just happened? A hacker turned off your vehicle.
This isn’t a tale from Hollywood. In fact, it’s exactly what happened when a cybersecurity group of researchers used the internet to hack into a Jeep Cherokee’s computer system. Of course, the radio, equipped with the entertainment system UConnect, had all the bells and whistles a consumer could want… including WiFi and internet. And it was precisely those features that allowed hackers to get into the vehicle’s computer and command its steering, brakes and the engine.
That’s an incredibly scary thought in this day and age as cyberattacks are nearly rampant. We’ve all heard of the security breaches at stores like Home Depot and Target; now, hackers can even take over a citizen’s car if they want to. The proverbial doors are wide open.
The story original debuted at Wired magazine (7/21/2015). Among other things, researchers disabled the brakes of the Jeep Cherokee in question, driven by one of the technology reporters. The vehicle careened into a ditch as a result. Fortunately, the hack was controlled and no one was injured.
Researchers didn’t stop there. They toyed with the vehicle’s radio, steering, horn and seat belt. They disabled the brakes. And what’s more, everything was done on the fly, through the internet.
Fiat Chrysler issued a software patch as soon as the issue became public. As a result of the potential threat, the manufacturer issued a recall for 1.4 million vehicles to address the bug. Fiat Chrysler owners don’t have to take in their vehicles for the patch; instead they will receive a USB drive with a software update they can do themselves right from the dash of their vehicle thanks in part to – that’s right – the internet.
In a reassuring twist, the researchers did note that the hack was certainly not easy to perform. It took one year of sophisticated reprogramming including multiple attempts to actually hack the vehicle. So, the good news is that if you’re driving an affected Jeep according to the list below, you’re more than likely safe – for now. Of course, it’s a good idea to get your patch right away.
Affected vehicles include:
- 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
For more information on the UConnect security update, click here.
ABOUT MICHAEL PINES
Michael Pines is a car accident lawyer located in San Diego, California. He is the founder of https://SeriousAccidents.com, a personal injury law group specializing in car accidents. The Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC is located at 4660 La Jolla Village Dr., Suite 1030, San Diego, CA 92122. For a FREE consultation with Mike, call 1-800-655-6585.