Fiat Chrysler recall: Hackers expose Jeep security flaw

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chrysler Issues Recall To Prevent Hacking Of Its Car Software.

Fiat Chrysler has recalled 1.4 million cars and trucks under pressure from the US Government after it was revealed that the vehicles’ computers could be hacked and remotely controlled.

WASHINGTON — When the call came to officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they knew they had a problem they had never faced but had long feared.WASHINGTON — Fiat Chrysler said Friday it is voluntarily recalling 1.4 million U.S. cars to fix a software defect that could allow the vehicles to be hacked remotely. It followed an investigation by computer programmers and Wired magazine, where they managed to manipulate a Jeep Cherokee being driven on a Missouri motorway. The automaker said the hack appeared to be an isolated incident that could not be easily repeated, because it required extensive technical knowledge of the vehicle.

This week, security researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller remotely disabled a Jeep Cherokee’s brakes and steering — while the car was on the highway. From Reuters: The announcement by FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, comes after cybersecurity researchers used the Internet to turn off a car’s engine as it drove, escalating concerns about the safety of Internet-connected vehicles. They had managed to gain control of not just features like the radio and air-conditioning, but the actual functions of the car: the engine, the brakes and the steering. However, car manufacturers in the UK have been under increased pressure to improve the security features on vehicles that can be accessed by computer hackers.

That revelation set in motion a nine-day flurry of activity by the automaker and the safety agency that culminated Friday in a sweeping recall of 1.4 million vehicles. “Launching a recall is the right step to protect Fiat Chrysler’s customers, and it sets an important precedent for how N.H.T.S.A. and the industry will respond to cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” said Mark R. The ethical hackers, who shared their studies with the manufacturers, hacked into the car’s uConnect infotainment system, taking control of the car, shutting down brakes, and driving it into a ditch. “Probably a 10 or 15 minute actual process,” says Cole. “Of course, sometimes there’s waiting until we get to them, but it’s a very easy process.” While this recall involves certain models of Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge, if hackers can use a cell phone to lock into the computer system of any vehicle, the manufacturers of all kinds will have to pay attention and get on top of this problem in the weeks and months ahead. Many of these products — which are commonly called the “Internet of Things” — carry the same software flaws that have been continually exploited by hackers operating on the Web. Vehicles today talk to the outside world through remote key systems, satellite radios, Bluetooth connections, dashboard Internet links and even wireless tire-pressure monitors.

Accordingly, FCA US has established a dedicated [engineering] team focused on identifying and implementing best practices for software development and integration.” The company said it was unaware of any injuries related to what it called “software exploitation”. The researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, had given the automaker a heads up: The two men planned to make their findings public early this week. In January, BMW also had to issue a software patch after the German Automobile Assn. found a potential security issue in the vehicles’ cellular network.

In 2010 and 2011, a team of researchers from UC San Diego and the University of Washington showed that hackers could infiltrate a car’s electronic control network to disable brakes or even the engine. Infotainment systems are particularly good attack surfaces because modern versions often use a driver’s smartphone to connect directly to the Internet — or such systems connect to the Internet directly through cellular signals.

The Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act would require manufacturers to disclose the measures taken to shield cars from hacking and allow consumers to opt out of data collection enabled by on-board technology. The problems for FCA come just a day after rival General Motors revealed second-quarter profits were four times higher than in 2014, hitting $1.1bn (£710m) as bosses put last year’s troubles behind them – $1.28bn in recalls and compensation for a potentially fatal ignition switch fault in millions of compact cars. Researchers Miller and Valasek have shared their findings with Chrysler for nearly nine months, which allowed the automaker to release a patch, according to Wired. The hacking issues may not have hit the UK, but last year 6,000 cars were stolen in London by thieves using computers to trick cars into starting without keys. Fiat Chrysler software specialists scrambled to make a patch available to plug the hole, and released one on the automaker’s website on July 16, the day after the call to Washington.

Figures revealed that one in three car thefts in the capital were carried out this way, and the pressure is on carmakers, particularly Land Rover and BMW, to improve their security. Edward Markey, D-Mass., found that nearly all cars on the market “include wireless technologies that could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions.” But while wireless technology is frequently cited as a potential source of problems — it’s also thought of by some experts as a way to help fix them. Experts have warned that thieves may even be using computer malware to take over vehicle systems via satellite, issuing remote commands for them to unlock and start up. Secure over-the-air updates could help ease the process of fixing security flaws once they are discovered, said Josh Corman, the founder of I Am The Cavalry.

The group has urged vehicle manufacturers to adopt a five-star-style rating system for security best practices, akin to the ratings for traditional vehicle safety. And if drivers were vulnerable to an attack where they could lose control of their cars, that would certainly seem to qualify, even though a recall for a web security threat had never before taken place. In the meantime, the researchers made their findings known on Tuesday in an article published by the news technology site Wired, telling how they had taken control of a cooperating driver’s car from 10 miles away as it sped down a St. The upgrade will provide additional security features to the network-level measures the company has already rolled out in response to the demonstration.

While Fiat Chrysler’s recall is notable because it appears to be a result of the publicly demonstrated exploit, software problems have increasingly become the source of recalls as computer systems have taken over more vehicles. Rosekind was visiting Michigan for a speech in which he addressed the need for improved web security in vehicles.) N.H.T.S.A. officials decided that the vulnerability was simply too dangerous not to require a formal recall. That includes some Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees, Dodge Durangos, Ram pickup trucks, Chrysler 200 and 300 sedans, Dodge Chargers and Vipers. (The company set up a VIN search tool to let consumers check if their vehicle is affected.) The automaker also said it had “applied network-level security measures” on the Sprint cellular network that communicates with its vehicles as another step to block the vulnerability. Valasek, one of the two researchers, posted on social media that when he tried connecting again to his test Jeep, the pathway through Sprint’s network had been blocked.

Markey, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, recently drafted legislation to set federal standards for web security protection in vehicles. The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan, and the panel’s top Democrat, Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, also issued a statement, saying that “cars today are essentially computers on wheels, and the last thing drivers should have to worry about is some hacker along for the ride.”

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