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NHTSA closes hacking investigation

by Bill Cawthon on

On Saturday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ended its investigation of Chrysler, Jeep and Ram vehicles for possible hacking vulnerabilities.

The agency also closed a separate inquiry into the infotainment systems manufactured by Harman International.


Last July, professional hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Vasasek successfully hacked a Jeep Cherokee and took control of the steering, braking, transmission, windshield wipers and entertainment system. Miller and Valasek took advantage of an unsecured, open port to gain access to the vehicle’s network electronics.

FCA recalled about 1.4 million FCA vehicles equipped with Uconnect 8.4A and 8.4AN infotainment systems and RA3 and RA4 radios sourced from Harman Kardon. Vehicle owners were provided a flash update that secured the port.

In addition, Sprint International, the cellular carrier for the Unconnect system, cut off remote access to the port.

Affected vehicles included the: 2015 Chrysler 200, 300; 2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger; 2013-2015 Dodge Viper; 2014-2015 Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Cherokee; and 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 and 4500/5500. The recall was NHTSA action 15V-461.

An investigation into Harman Kardon systems used by other manufacturers determined that those systems did not contain a similar vulnerability.

The NHTSA said it had received 30 complaints about the problem but that 26 of those were received after the news of the recall was made public.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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