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UConnect Fix is Now a Recall

by David Zatz on

Several days after a story in Wired showed that two highly skilled security researchers were able to control a Jeep Cherokee from ten miles away, FCA US is conducting a recall to upgrade 1.4 million vehicles with vulnerable systems.

The researchers stated in the article that most current systems from different automakers are hackable. In the past they broke into a Ford and a Toyota.

FCA has already issued new firmware which allows owners to prevent issues in the near term, and has worked with Sprint to increase network security.  The firmware upgrade alone (see instructions on installing it) blocks the hack, according to FCA.

So far, the only known instance of a vehicle takeover was done by the “white hat” security researchers, solely to demonstrate the vulnerability of automotive systems in general.  The vulnerability was in the “UConnect Access” system and was based in part on the sending of the vehicle identification number without any encryption.

The recall affects certain cars and trucks with the 8.4-inch touchscreen stereo among the 2013-2015 Viper and Ram pickups and chassis cabs; 2014-15 Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Durango; and 2015 200, 300, Charger, and Challenger.

wired

The recall does not add anything new, as far as Allpar can tell, to what FCA has already done, but puts additional pressure on customers to have the upgrade done (and, by current law, requires car rental agencies to do the upgrade before they can rent affected cars).  Customers will get a USB device to help them update their firmware, or can visit the aforementioned web site to do it.

FCA noted, “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…Customers are urged to acquire the software update. Those with questions or concerns may call the FCA US Customer Care Center at 1-800-853-1403.”

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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