Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is voluntarily recalling 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. after two researchers successfully hacked and seized control of a Jeep Cherokee driven by a journalist of Wired magazine. The automaker insists no customer complaint or claim has been filed so far.
Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek were able to fiddle with the climate control system, change radio stations, control the windshield wipers, and even display their picture on the centre touchscreen. The journalist behind the wheel knew in advance about their plan to hack into the Cherokee, but he didn’t know exactly what they were going to do. He was told not to panic, however.
What started as a funny, inoffensive hacking attempt quickly turned into a more serious affair when Miller and Valasek took over the powertrain and controlled both the Cherokee’s throttle and brakes. At one point, they reduced speed 50% and later shut the engine off… while the vehicle was in the fast lane!
Following this controlled hacking “experiment,’’ FCA has decided to issue a recall on all the units that could potentially be hacked. The automaker is willing to take all necessary precautions to make sure a similar security breach doesn’t happen again.
Affected models in the U.S. include the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500, 2013-2015 Dodge Viper, 2014-2015 Dodge Durango, 2015 Dodge Challenger, and 2015 Chrysler 200 and 300. The number of affected units and models in Canada has yet to be specified. Same thing for the need of a recall north of the border.
The emergence of connected cars has understandably raised multiple concerns about security and safety.
“Five years ago, the auto industry did not consider cyber-security as a near-term problem,” Egil Juliussen, a senior analyst and research director with IHS Automotive, told The Detroit Bureau. “For the auto industry, this is a very important event and shows that cyber-security protection is needed even sooner than previously planned.”
FCA slapped with record $105 million USD fine
Times are tough for FCA as one insider told the Wall Street Journal that the company is about to be hit with a record fine of $105 million USD for its failure to recall and repair defective vehicles in a timely manner. This involves nearly two dozen recalls affecting more than 11 million cars, such as 1.56 million older Jeep models with a tank that can leak fuel after a collision.
In addition to the fine, FCA will reportedly have to offer affected owners to either buy their vehicle back or repair them at no cost.