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Could Hackers Take Over Your Vehicle?

Chrysler Fiat recently announced the recall of 1.4 million vehicles that are equipped with in-vehicle technology that is susceptible to hacking. It is the country’s first cybersecurity motor vehicle recall.

As detailed in numerous media reports, hackers were able to identify and exploit security vulnerabilities in a Jeep Cherokee’s UConnect entertainment system. Once they remotely accessed the system, the hackers were able to change the vehicle’s speed and control the brakes, radio, windshield wipers, transmission and other features that are accessible through the system.

The recall involves the following vehicles equipped with 8.4-inch touchscreens:

  • 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

The good news is that software engineers were able to create a patch that fixes the security glitch. Vehicle owners will receive a USB drive and can install it on their own. For those who are not so technically inclined, consumers can also take their defective vehicles to local dealers to receive the patch.

Given the novelty of the issue as well as Chrysler Fiat’s poor track record with vehicle recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is closely monitoring the situation. “Launching a recall is the right step to protect Fiat Chrysler’s customers, and it sets an important precedent for how NHTSA and the industry will respond to cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind stated.

In this case, the hackers were “good guys” and immediately reported the security vulnerability to Chrysler Fiat so that it could be fixed. However, that may not always be the case. The greater concern is that automakers across the industry have failed to adequately address cybersecurity threats posed by increasingly hi-tech vehicles. As San Diego product liability lawyers, we will be closely monitoring how the auto industry and the NHTSA respond to these risks.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a dangerous or defective vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego product liability attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.