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Automakers Struggle to Keep Hackers Out of Increasingly Automated Vehicles

Chrysler recall not likely to end the problem.

by on Jul.27, 2015

A Wired journalist winds up in a ditch after hackers took control of this 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

Sometime next month, if all goes well, California battery carmaker Tesla Motors plans to ask a select group of owners to begin testing its latest vehicle operating system. Dubbed version 7.0, it will include a beta version of Tesla’s new Pilot system which will offer the ability to drive on the highway hands-free.

As with previous updates for the Model S sedan, Tesla will upload the software wirelessly, rather than requiring owners to visit its showrooms. It’s an approach many other automakers are expected to adopt in the coming years. But it also raises some serious concerns among industry observers who question whether such an approach might make it easy for hackers to shift their focus from computers to cars.

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The risk was highlighted this past week when a pair of professional hackers gained access to a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven by a reporter working for Wired magazine. They turned on the Jeep’s windshield wipers, shut the engine down while it was being driven down the highway, took control of the steering wheel and then disabled its brakes, sending it into a ditch.

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Cherokee Hack Forces Fiat Chrysler to Recall 1.4 Million Vehicles

Maker volunteers to safeguard against future incursions.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Odds are if you have Fiat Chrysler model with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, that vehicle is subject to the maker's latest recall.

Just days after hackers were able to take control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee and run it into a ditch, Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million vehicles to upgrade vulnerable software to reduce the risk of it happening again.

The maker will send owners a USB device that will automatically download the necessary updates to protect the vehicles.

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“Further, FCA US has applied network-level security measures to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report,” the company said in a statement. “These measures – which required no customer or dealer actions – block remote access to certain vehicle systems and were fully tested and implemented within the cellular network on July 23, 2015.” (more…)

Jeep Owners Urged to Act to Lock Out Hackers

Hackers take control of Jeep Cherokee, crash it into ditch.

by on Jul.22, 2015

A journalist crashes into ditch after hackers take control of his 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Image courtesy of Wired.

Fiat Chrysler has released an urgent update for the software on a number of its connected vehicles after learning that two hackers were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee and crash it into a ditch.

The news comes amidst growing concern that hackers are beginning to target automobiles as they have computers and cellphones. But in this case, there’s more than just private information at stake. Experts fear that such cyberattacks could pose the actual risk of death or injury, as well as major chaos on the highways.

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The possibility that hackers could gain access to hundreds of thousands of FCA vehicles was revealed in a story in Wired magazine. The potential was demonstrated by two professional hackers, including one who previously worked for the National Security Agency. They plan to reveal at least some of their tricks during a so-called Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month.

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Hackers Use Smartphone to Steal Subaru Outback

With more tech onboard are cars becoming easy prey?

by on Aug.09, 2011

Hackers break into a Subaru Outback using nothing but a smartphone.

Today’s cars are loaded with digital technology, from the engine controllers that maximize mileage while reducing emissions, to their increasingly popular multi-function infotainment systems.  But have these silicon-based devices also made our cars increasingly vulnerable to high-tech thieves?

That’s the chilling message delivered by two researchers who appeared at the Black Hat Conference, an annual gathering of hackers and security pros in Las Vegas, this last week.  Using nothing but an Android smartphone and some creative programming, they were able to not only unlock a Subaru Outback but start up its engine.

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“I could care less if I could unlock a car door. It’s cool. It’s sexy,” Don Bailey, a senior security consultant with iSEC Partners and one of the pros who hacked the car, told CNN. “But the same system is used to control phone, power, traffic systems. I think that’s the real threat.”

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