Hackers Demonstrate the Vulnerability of Jeep's Uconnect System

Auto technicians

A recent video, released by technology magazine Wired, has prompted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to recall 1.4 million of its vehicles in the United States.

In the video, computer security experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, as well as driver Andy Greenberg, demonstrate just how easy it is to gain control of a Jeep Cherokee by manipulating its UConnect dashboard infotainment system.

If you’re planning to pursue an automotive career, read on to learn more about how these hackers were able to gain control of the vehicle, and how Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to repair the issue.

Details of the Automotive Security Breach

In describing his experience for Wired, driver Andy Greenberg stated: “though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.”

The two hackers went much further than simply fiddling with the car’s comfort features. In fact, Miller and Valasek were capable of both abruptly engaging the car’s brakes as well as disabling them altogether. The latter had the 2-ton SUV sliding uncontrollably into a ditch in no time, driver in tow.

While this particular incident was carefully planned for the editorial, car technical experts know that it demonstrates the potential threats that cars boasting high-tech infotainment systems face.

Vehicles Affected by the FCA Recall

After the incident, FCA immediately implemented network-level security measures to prevent the type of hacking that was demonstrated by Wired.

The good news is that the vulnerability issue can be resolved by a software upgrade, and owners of affected vehicles won’t have to contact their auto technicians to repair the issue. Instead, these customers will receive a USB device in the mail, which contains a software update that has a range of additional security features.

Here is a list of the affected vehicles:

  • 2013-2015 MY Dodge Viper specialty vehicles
  • 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups
  • 2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs
  • 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs
  • 2014-2015 Dodge Durango SUVs
  • 2015 MY Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger sports coupes

Customers can also visit a private website and type in their VIN to find out if their vehicle was recalled. However, the recall only applies to American drivers, as Canada was not affected.

Check out this video for live footage of the Jeep hack:

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