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Lawmakers Calling for Action on Vehicle Cybersecurity

Several members of Congress recently sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urging the agency to organize an industry-wide effort to prevent possible attacks on computer systems in vehicles.

Last year, Chrysler-Fiat recalled 1.4 million vehicles that are equipped with in-vehicle technology that is susceptible to hacking. As previously detailed on this San Diego Injury Blog, 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.

In March, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and NHTSA issued a bulletin warning that motor vehicles are “increasingly vulnerable” to hacking. “The FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers – of vehicles, vehicle components, and aftermarket devices – to maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles,” the bulletin warned.

In their letter, four Republican members of Congress expressed concern that regulators are not working fast enough to address hacking risks. The lawmakers particularly expressed concern about the vulnerability associated with the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port, which auto manufacturers have been required to install in all post-1994 vehicles to test for emissions compliance. According to the Congressmen, the port "as it currently exists creates a growing risk to the safety and security of passengers."

As Reuters reports, other federal agencies are also evaluating cybersecurity concerns involving connected devices. The Department of Justice recently announced it has formed a threat analysis team to examine the possible national security challenges posed by self-driving cars, medical devices, and other internet-connected consumer products.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a defective vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact a San Diego product liability attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.