On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler stated that the company has come up with a software fix that will put a stop to future hacking involving their vehicles.
When Nightmares Become Reality
This software update put out by Fiat Chrysler is in response to the Wired article that ran earlier in the week about two well-known hackers who remotely commandeered a Jeep Cherokee and drove it into a ditch. While the owner was still inside.
In the article, the driver details how the exploit took over his vehicle while he was driving at speeds nearing 70 mph, just on the edge of downtown St. Louis. The driver, Andy Greenberg, wasn’t completely surprised by the take over, though. In fact, he came to St. Louis to specifically be the test dumb of Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, the two hackers performing the stunt.
Miller and Valasek were able to turn on the air conditioner, take over the in-seat climate control system, manipulate the radio, and turn the windshield wipers on and off — all very small things. After a while, Miller and Valasek were able to send a video feed of the two directly through to the vehicle’s touchscreen display. That’s when they cut the transmission, rendering the accelerator useless, and began to take full control over the Jeep.
Downloading the Patch
The vehicle hacking scenario described in the article was meant to be a direct warning to the auto industry — the smarter a vehicle becomes, the more susceptible it will be to vulnerabilities.
According to the FCA, 2013 and 2014 models with 8.4-inch touchscreens are affected by the security flaw. This list includes Ram pickups, Dodge Durangos, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Viper, and some 2015 Chrysler 200s.
In order to download the patch you’ll need to grab the software off the FCA’s UConnect Web site. Alternatively, dealerships will also perform the install for free. Owners that could be affected will be contacted directly through mail.
Finding Peace of Mind
According to Miller, the patch he received appeared to fix the issue he and his partnered used in order to hack the vehicle. However, Miller also stated that there are plenty of other issues that could potentially lead to future hacks, one of which is the fact that automakers don’t have an ability to detect hacks currently in progress. In other words, they’re flying blind.