Wired's "Jeep Hack" Report Leads to Chrysler Recall

Last month, Chrysler officially announced a recall of 1.4 million of its vehicles following an investigative report published by the technology magazine Wired. In Wired's "Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It," researchers proved that it was possible to remotely affect a Chrysler dashboard computer and effectively shut down the vehicle while it was still being operated by the driver at high speeds.

Wired has followed up with Chrysler's response, which is to recall over a million of its vehicles, including over a dozen different jeep and truck models. The number far exceeds the 471,000 vehicles that Wired's researchers initially estimated in their hacking experiment.

The key issue lies with the Uconnect dashboard computers installed in Chrysler’s vehicles. Wired's researchers found that the system had critical vulnerabilities related to its use of the Sprint cellular network. Not only did they find that they locate other Chrysler drivers on the road with a GPS, but control the radio, windshield wipers, climate control, steering, brakes, and transmission.

A New Kind of Recall

While technology has given motor vehicles new functions—and vulnerabilities—it has also provided a new kind of recall. In this recent case, no Chrysler owner will have to take their vehicle to be serviced. Instead, they will be mailed a USB thumb drive that contains programming that will fix the Uconnect issue. Chrysler also announced that the software update will help strengthen security across the entire network.

In their statement, Chrysler maintained that the Wired report was not a cause for immediate concern for drivers. "The software manipulation addressed by this recall required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code," the statement reads. Wired concedes a similar point: it took their researchers over a year to manipulate the Chrysler vehicles as they did.

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