By on July 21, 2015

2013 RAM 3500 Interior, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If you’re like me, you may have found yourself asking “Why would Fiat Chrysler Automobiles release a patch for Uconnect if nothing is wrong?” last week.

The answer, provided by Wired today, is “They wouldn’t,” and that hackers could remotely kill a Jeep through a zero-day exploit in the system’s software. Additionally, hackers could take control of  many other functions including steering, climate controls, brakes, throttle — the whole nine yards.

The Internet-based attack can remotely control just about any part of the car, according to the story. The two St. Louis men featured, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, can reportedly control any part of the car: stereo, windshield wipers, steering (only in reverse), braking, transmission and air conditioning.

The duo say they plan to release a portion of their exploit when they speak at a security conference in Las Vegas next month.

Chrysler isn’t happy.

“Under no circumstances does FCA condone or believe it’s appropriate to disclose ‘how-to information’ that would potentially encourage, or help enable hackers to gain unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems.

FCA has a dedicated team from System Quality Engineering focused on identifying and implementing software best practices across FCA globally. The team’s responsibilities include development and implementation of cybersecurity standards for all vehicle content, including on-board and remote services.

As such, FCA released a software update that offers customers improved vehicle electronic security and communications system enhancements. The Company monitors and tests the information systems of all of its products to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities in the ordinary course of business.

Similar to a smartphone or tablet, vehicle software can require updates for improved security protection to reduce the potential risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems. The software security update, provided at no cost to customers, also includes Uconnect improvements introduced in the 2015 model year designed to enhance customer convenience and enjoyment of their vehicle. Customers can either download and install this particular update themselves or, if preferred, their dealer can complete this one-time update at no cost to customers.

Customers with questions may call Vehicle Care at 1-877-855-8400.”

Miller and Valasek say they’ll leave out important parts of their code that potentially malicious hackers would require to duplicate their feats.

Last week, FCA released an update for Uconnect addressing the vulnerability. That update must be installed at dealerships, or by owners with a USB stick, which could be an encumbrance for many owners, leaving many vulnerable Jeeps left out on the road.

According to the Detroit News, two U.S. Senators are proposing a bill that would specify federal standards for automotive computer systems to combat hacking.

(I asked Chrysler last week when the patch was released and heard that “nothing in particular” prompted the update and I bought it. I have failed you, TTAC readers, and I’m sorry.)

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89 Comments on “Security Flaw in Uconnect Lets Hackers Remotely Kill Jeep’s Engine...”


  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    The hacker could stand on a freeway overpass and have the ultimate remote control CUV. Wheeeeeee!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Why does whats is effectively a CD player computer apparently have write access to the engine’s computer? I could see read access for diagnostics etc but write access? Really?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m guessing because “sport mode”, “performance pages”, and other such things are controlled through uConnect.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It’s on the CAN bus networks and has communication capability with important modules. Radios aren’t just radios anymore.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. I’m sure FCA doesn’t leverage the Uconnect system to literally control the brakes, but somehow through the can network, it is able to communicate with a module that does.

        It’s dangerous if hackers are able to exploit that.

        I’m a bit concerned about my VW now, which has Car Net.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Radios aren’t just radios anymore.”

        That’s a serious problem.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          Yes it is. The fact is ANY system that can be connected to the internet has the potential to be “hacked”. Any vehicle that has Bluetooth or an OnStar like connectivity (think Pandora, Google Maps, Yelp reviews, etc) in the dash is a potential target. I’m normally not the tin foil hat or get off my lawn type but this is one of those cases where I’m glad my vehicles are older and thus don’t have any such fancy pants features.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            If someone wants to do harm to you using your vehicle, they’re far more likely to sabotage your brakes, tires or fuel system rather than try and reprogram the thing to try and kill you.

            On another note though, we should probably convert to carburetors anyway to avoid the ill effects of the inevitable EMP attack.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “If someone wants to do harm to you using your vehicle, they’re far more likely to sabotage your brakes, tires or fuel system rather than try and reprogram the thing to try and kill you.”

            Hackers would hack because that’s what they know how to do.

            In any case, hackers can and do choose targets indiscriminately. You become a victim of convenience, like a sniper who picks off random targets just because. Wrong place, wrong time.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Yes. And you’re far more likely to be picked off by a random sniper while driving than a random hacker.

            Not that this isn’t a problem that needs addressing of course.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      If you read the Wired article, the radio does not normally have access to engine (and brake, transmission, etc.) management but what they do is use the vulnerability to reflash one of the chips in the radio to add this “functionality”.

      But the reason that they can do this at all is because all of the devices in the car talk on the same “canbus”. Even read access might be dangerous (it can be enlarged thru a flaw into read/write plus your privacy can be compromised – attacker can read your GPS, know where you are and have been, etc.)

      What carmakers really need to do is either physically isolate critical systems from the internet and put entertainment on a different bus (this would be hard to do – for example, you want the GPS to make announcements over the radio speakers) , or else implement proper end to end encryption/security so that only trusted modules have authority over the things that have business with (but this costs $). In other words, your windshield wiper switch could command the wiper motor but your radio never could (because it doesn’t know the wiper motor’s secret credentials). The anti-lock sensors can have authority over your ABS control unit but your radio (and wiper switch) wouldn’t.

      This is how the public internet works – you and I both communicate with our bank over the public system but there are (hopefully) enough layers of security and encryption that I can only make transfers from my account and you can only access your account. Car makers haven’t done this until now because they assumed that they had control over all of the pieces so they were all inside the “circle of trust” – your radio could potentially talk to the ABS module over the common bus that they were sharing, but since they (thought that they) controlled the programming of both, they didn’t worry about it. THEIR radio firmware would never try to disable your brakes. If you give your best friend a front door key so he can stay in your spare bedroom, you don’t then lock every other door in the house because you assume he won’t steal your stuff. But if you were a paranoid kind of guy, you’d put a lock on your gun safe too – that way, in case someone else found your friend’s key they couldn’t just take your collection without having to break another lock.

      Note that adding this kind of security to every component on the canbus (which means basically every electrical component in the car, even the light bulbs) would not only add cost, but it would also mean that every time you replaced a part you would have to “pair” that part with the stuff on the other end.

      None of this is impossible but it would cost $, so the car makers have just buried their head in the sand and prayed that this day wouldn’t come. The same guys showed a few years ago that they could do this stuff thru the OBD port but the car makers said that if you had physical access to the car you could just as well cut the brake lines, so who cares? What do they say now? They issued a press release that its not nice for hackers to make hacks public. I feel much better now – this will surely dissuade all the hackers now that they know that it’s not nice to hack.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        “- for example, you want the GPS to make announcements over the radio speakers”

        Um, not all that hard to do with the plain old speaker wires. Not all that hard either to have a dedicated signal wire to tell the entertainment system to temporarily mute for a GPS announcement (or cell phone, etc.).

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          You’ve totally missed the idea that the cars are using CAN bus. You can’t just “add” an extra wire here and there, it’s not going to work.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            No, I didn’t miss the idea, but I think we’re talking past each other.

            The CAN bus doesn’t HAVE to be used for EVERYTHING- not at the drawing board stage it doesn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The major point of CAN is to eliminate the need to add more wires.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “The major point of CAN is to eliminate the need to add more wires.”

            Yes, and in other obvious news, the major point of run flat tires is to save on carrying a spare tire everywhere you go and driverless cars are supposed to eliminate the need for a driver.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Speaking of the obvious, it should be clear why automakers don’t want to run redundant speaker wires when they can achieve the same thing with bus communication. If you’re going to be so snide, try to be not so oblivious.

            For peripherals that they don’t want/need on the CAN bus, there is the LIN bus. The days of hard wiring every little input/output to a commanding node are long gone.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        Thank you Denver, this was the synopsis I was looking for.

        The bigger question for FCA (and pretty much every other auto manufacturer) is, what’s the best design going forward. Two separate CANBUSs, one secure for operations and one non-secure for infotainment? Disabling internet connectivity from cars, requiring hardware only flashing? Going in and removing crosstalk capability by making everything ‘IP’ addressable (GPS can send commands only to speakers and screen but doesn’t know/isn’t allowed to address motor function)?

        Real problem is these design cycles are years long. FCA’s current UConnect is probably meant to last 5 – 10 years. Unless they rip out a lot of functionality and dumb it down, it’s going to be a while.

        Other issue, can someone get close enough to the car to do this, versus having to have an access point inside the car? Could I walk past an idling car at the WaWa and flash these modules?

        Brave New World of the Internet of Things (IoT).

        • 0 avatar
          SpinnyD

          A companion article at Wired talks about the Audi A8 as being a very secure setup. Pretty much what your talking about.

          http://www.wired.com/2014/08/car-hacking-chart/

          “The researchers point to Audi’s A8, by contrast, as an example of a strong network layout. Its wireless features were separated from its driving functions on its internal network, with a gateway that would block commands sent to steering or brakes from any compromised radios.”

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Denver

          Per the Wired article, they were able to do this remotely over the Sprint cell network. They (and your car) could be anywhere in the US with Sprint cell service. So no you don’t have to physical access to the car and you don’t have to even be near the car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Nice post.

      • 0 avatar
        Veee8

        nice post.

        “What carmakers really need to do is either physically isolate critical systems from the internet and put entertainment on a different bus”

        I find that they aren’t motivated to care when we see articles in TTAC like.

        “Execs Refusing To Disclose Defects Won’t Go to Jail Anytime Soon”

        I’d rather have no internet tech/connections with cars and leave that to the smart phone manufacturers as a separate device…damn new fangled gadegts.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    But the good news is the Hellcat doesn’t have heatsoak issues on the race track

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Hey! The financial institutions could use this “feature-not-a-bug” to “Mel Farr” a car for overdue monthly payments. Shut down the A/C and start cranking up the heat when payment is 1 day late, crank the stereo all the way up and lock the tuner to an “All Metal, All Day” channel when 2 days late, lock the tranny in low gear at 3 days late…all the way to kill the engine at 11:59 PM on day 9.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Such technology has existed for some time, long before CD Players turned into in-car PCs.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      A lot of the delinquent types out here would probably love loud metal…

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting. I actually did some research on this subject. GM swears there’s no connect between its in-house financing arm and OnStar such that it could be used to locate and disable cars that are up for repossession, even if said delinquent customer has actually called into OnStar…probably because (a) it’d be a PR nightmare, and (b) recovery companies have pretty good track records for finding cars. The only way to really keep your vehicle hidden is not to drive it, and what good is that? I’m sure other automakers have the same stance.

      What I foresee, though, is some service allowing buy-here-pay-here dealerships to pay OnStar and other such telematics companies a fee in order to allow the BHPHs to track and disable vehicles when payments are late. After all, why install an expensive aftermarket system when OnStar is already built into the car?

  • avatar
    caltemus

    They should have split the crucial systems and entertainment buses like you’d see on an airplane

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They are on separate buses, but they have cross communication capability through gateways.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> They are on separate buses, but they have cross communication capability through gateways.

        Typically, if I’m doing cross communications to another bus (non-automotive), I’ll create a function specific gateway and make the it appear as a dumbed down version of the device on the other side. So, for example if the GPS was on the other side, the gateway appears as a very simple GPS and nothing else. Try as hard as you can to get it to do something else (i.e. upgrade it’s firmware) and all it will do is read and return location data. There’s no access to the gateways firmware either.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Just wait for fully autonomous cars to be hacked.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Why do so many auto journos feel the need to show car screenshots proving they listen to ghetto trash?

    We *know* you’re all goofy kids dabbling in a stratum you neither understand nor could survive. It’s expected of you.

    Now put a little curve in you cap bill and wear it in front!

  • avatar
    northshorerealtr

    Allpar has an article about how to do the update yourself. They also make a point to say that the radio’s security code (available from the dealer) is required to complete the installation.
    http://www.allpar.com/corporate/tech/firmware-updates.html

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      No such radio code is necessary. I entered my VIN in Jeep’s website and it took me to the download page. Insert USB drive, switch car to Run… update begins.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Denver

        This should not warm your heart. It means that anyone (parking lot attendant, etc.) who ever has access to your car can plug in a USB drive and reprogram your radio (and thru it your entire vehicle) to do God knows what at some future date and you would have no clue. Such as send them your position over the internet. Unlock the doors and start the motor. There’s nothing to be gained by crashing your vehicle but stealing it – that’s worth some effort.

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        +1. I’ve installed 2 UConnect updates on my 2015 Challenger in the 4 months that I’ve had it; I didn’t need a security code to enter into the radio either time.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        That’s actually very concerning…could someone who wants to harm you backflash hour radio to an older vulnerable version then? Or even flash a compromised firmware to start with.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    And it starts… And I’m completely unaffected in every way, yay me. However, poor me as I have no options in the automotive landscape for me to replace my aging vehicles.

    Can’t any code be eventually broken? Even the update? What happens in 20 years when the codes to control today’s vehicles are readily accessible and no one is willing to take responsibility for these vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I really, really, really want an option to absolutely disconnect all wireless connectivity (save door lock/unlock) on any new car that I buy. That feature would just about guarantee the car moves to the top of my list. I will gladly do without any infotainment features lost by turning off all wireless comm.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, I could do without Car Net and other similar telematics systems. But Bluetooth streaming is nice.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          I would personally prefer a wired connection to a phone, but at least Bluetooth is sharply range limited. You would have to be quite close to the car to do anything via Bluetooth, unlike a cell phone hack that can be done from pretty much anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        New vehicles just keep getting more uninteresting to me as a car enthusiast, doesn’t mean much to the rest of the industry. But if aftermarket companies start selling some interesting kit cars that basically require only a drivetrain, that can manage to avoid telematics and the such, I’m done with what’s availible on dealer lots.

        It’s really that simple, my vehicle interests already create a situation where literally nothing availible today completely satisfies my automobile desires. But I can’t even overlook that as the next best thing might as well be the equivalent of a Motorola DynaTAC in 10 years.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Someone make sure BigTruck is safe.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      If the hackers got a hold of the throttle of his Hellcat, wow. Wonder if he’d be able to think quickly enough to kill the motor. I like to think so.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        LMAO, took long enough for a BTSR comment, I thought it would be the first thing on here. He’s totally screwed. Also I think he has a 300 SRT and a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, don’t think he has a Hellcat yet.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          I mean, you don’t want to see it happen of course, but I’d be morbidly curious as to whether he would act fast and kill the ignition or whether he would go catapulting down the freeway screaming like a middle-aged woman behind the wheel of an out-of-control Prius. Scary thought, for all of us.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you for your concerns…

      If all else fails, I’ll just drive it into a lake. If no lake is around, I’ll be sure to slam into a Japanese import to slow myself down.

  • avatar
    Fred

    So it’s also possible to modify U-connect with a USB drive. That has possibilities for mischief.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      According to the article you need to know your radio’s security code, available from your dealer. Of the 5% of people who will actually find about this and take the trouble to attempt a flash, another 95% will get to the point where the radio asks them for the security code and get stymied there.

  • avatar
    Zekele Ibo

    With FCA you can cut the engine via the internet? That’s nothing. GM had that built directly into the ignition!

  • avatar
    matador

    My 1986 Dodge doesn’t need software updates. Neither do any of my other cars. Because, they’re cars, not computers. Driving is hard enough- why would I want technology to distract me? Worse, why would I want someone else controlling the car!?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      You don’t want technology driving your car because YOU will always drive your car perfectly. YOU will never text and drive like those other bozos or drive drunk or when you are tired. YOU will never get distracted and rear end someone. EVERYONE thinks that they are above-average drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I’m not above average by any means. But, I can’t be hacked. An electronics glitch won’t cause my arms to stop moving, or decide that I’m suddenly going left into oncoming lanes. I don’t text message while driving, and I don’t drink- period. There are many, many drivers who are better than me, but I’m better than a hacked electronics system. If hackers can do this (We know they can), you’re along for the ride. Why anybody would want to do that is beyond me. Google can have the wheel when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. If they’ve become that way because I’ve made a judgment error behind the wheel, so be it. At least I would have went doing something that I love.

        Now, get off of my lawn!

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Spoken like someone who’s had an at-fault collision.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          Driving records shouldn’t matter here, but for the record, I haven’t been in any accidents (Knock on wood), haven’t received any tickets, and the only time I was on the side of a road with a police officer was when she didn’t have jumper cables (Why don’t they give the Highway Patrol a set of jumper cables!?)

          Am I perfect? No. There are drivers better than me, and some who are worse than me. I do the best that I can. I will not be driven by a car, though. I repair and build computers for a living. With the quality electronics that GM has, the last thing I want to do is give them more electronics, with significantly more importance.

          Technology can be a huge help, but it has a major downfall: Once people are accustomed to it, their minds lose the ability to do things the “old fashioned way”. A lot of people can’t make change, and are addicted to their iPhone to the point that it is a major distraction in the car. I remember a simpler time when you hopped in your car, turned on Def Leppard or Conway Twitty if you wanted, and then just drove. Driving is it’s own reward. To lose the ability to drive would be to lose a major part of who I am. If you want your Google car, you can have one. But, I will keep my older cars. Give me a V8 pickup, and let me row my own gears. That is a feeling like nothing else….

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’ll just clarify that I was replying to Jack Denver’s comment.

            I’m with you on that. Not only do I distrust electronics, I can’t imagine ever putting up with a vehicle that doesn’t do exactly what I tell it to, or having a vehicle that simply transports me to my location instead of letting me participate in the journey. It just wouldn’t be pleasurable to me. I guess I’m a control freak.

            “Accidents” are usually the result of systematic negligence. I view those who think they’re unavoidable as people looking for acceptance of their own negligent habits. They’ve got an excuse ready.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I do think it’s pretty easy to determine where a person stands as a driver. Just compare the amount you’ve paid in auto insurance to all the insurance costs you’ve been responsible for as a driver, and that should give you a pretty good idea whether your driving habits are a drain on society. Most of us probably are above average; subsidizing the “bad drivers fund”. You could be a respectable driver who isn’t taking from that pool and still fall below the median, because the truly bad drivers are responsible for such disproportionate amounts of destruction.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    Just imagine when the “Internet Of Things” (oh how I hate that buzzword/phrase) really gets going.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      You said it!! “Internet Of Things!” Yeesh! And that’s from a 45 year-old Senior Systems Analyst! I live and breathe this stuff!

      Oral-B has a TOOTHBRUSH with Bluetooth (and maybe even an IP address)!

      Good God Almighty!!!

      At some point, we’re gonna jump the shark, and it ain’t gonna be pretty!

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        “Oral-B has a TOOTHBRUSH with Bluetooth (and maybe even an IP address)!”

        For some reason I just thought of the scene, in the movie Fight Club, when the airport guy is talking about vibrating razors in people’s luggage.

  • avatar
    hotdog453

    The requires a USB to update aspect is terrifying. 95% of owners aren’t going to update.

    Lovely design. Connect it to the Internet, but make the owner plug in a USB key to update.

    • 0 avatar

      Currently, the only car I know of that does over-the-air updates is the Tesla Model S. Dealers and automakers alike generally enjoy bringing customers to the dealership as often as is possible. Who knows? You might get there to have the update performed on your car and get convinced that you “need” an expensive brake job or fluid flush…or you might get attached to some brand-new, shiny metal on the showroom as you wait.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        Hasn’t Toyota’s Entune been doing OTA updates since 2012? BMW issued an OTA update for a security vulnerability earlier this year (ConnectedDrive).

        Over-The-Air update capability will basically become mandatory over the next few years for the ‘fancy radios’. The majority of owners won’t regularly check a website looking for updates. They won’t pay attention to an email from the manufacturer about an available update. Even if they noticed such an email they probably wouldn’t think it was important. Many of those that happened to pay attention to an email and are worried about it probably couldn’t figure out how to download the zip, extract it to a USB key, and update it themselves. Without drastic design changes to how these systems are implemented they’ll absolutely need to be able to auto-update.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      Doubly ironic because the hackers themselves are able to reflash your radio over the internet in order to install their exploit. What we need are “white hat” hackers who will hack your radio in order to patch the flaw.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    “Honey! C’mon over here, Sugar-buns. This machine just called me an @#$%^&*!”

  • avatar
    SpinnyD

    Reading the article in Wired, the hackers even got nervous as to how easy it was to connect to random people and track them on Google Maps. Talk about GOD mode!

    From the article
    “A set of GPS coordinates, along with a vehicle identification number, make, model, and IP address, appears on the laptop screen. It’s a Dodge Ram. Miller plugs its GPS coordinates into Google Maps to reveal that it’s cruising down a highway in Texarkana, Texas. He keeps scanning, and the next vehicle to appear on his screen is a Jeep Cherokee driving around a highway cloverleaf between San Diego and Anaheim, California. Then he locates a Dodge Durango, moving along a rural road somewhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When I ask him to keep scanning, he hesitates. Seeing the actual, mapped locations of these unwitting strangers’ vehicles—and knowing that each one is vulnerable to their remote attack—unsettles him.

    When Miller and Valasek first found the Uconnect flaw, they thought it might only enable attacks over a direct Wi-Fi link, confining its range to a few dozen yards. When they discovered the Uconnect’s cellular vulnerability earlier this summer, they still thought it might work only on vehicles on the same cell tower as their scanning phone, restricting the range of the attack to a few dozen miles. But they quickly found even that wasn’t the limit. “When I saw we could do it anywhere, over the Internet, I freaked out,” Valasek says. “I was frightened. It was like, holy fuck, that’s a vehicle on a highway in the middle of the country. Car hacking got real, right then.””

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    My thanks to TTAC for running this story. I downloaded the update and patched my daughter’s Cherokee as soon as she came home. Although she doesn’t have the uConnect service, the system has the hardware. I wonder: does the wifi circuit sit unpowered and dormant until activated, or is it energized at all times? The stories don’t make it clear. Anyway, I feel better knowing it’s patched.

    To repeat, you do not need your radio code. The whole thing takes maybe 15 minutes and also updates NAV, speech recognition, radio. How appropriate that it came out on Patch Tuesday.

  • avatar
    clkimmel

    This issue is very disturbing to me. I get what is being said about the CAN bus, but I still have a hard time understanding why the infotainment system needs to have access to the operable systems of the vehicle.

    TTAC editors, this would be a story to dig into. I started reading this site during the Toyota accelerator pedal issue because I thought they had some of the best reporting on the issue. I’d like to read some in depth stories on this problem.

    Thanks

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I still have a hard time understanding why the infotainment system needs to have access to the operable systems of the vehicle.”

      It doesn’t really have that command capabilty by default, the hackers reconfigured it to do that. It is however designed to communicate with other more crucial modules to give some of the display information on the screen, get signals for when to turn on/off, mute radio for backup sensors, switch to backup cam, twist the backup cam lines when turning the wheel etc. etc.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Glad to see this finally being made public. It’s a big deal.

    It’s one thing to require physical access to the ODB port or mechanical functions on the car if you intend to sabotage it. It’s another thing entirely when it can be done with some malicious code and a few clicks from anywhere on the planet.

    While I have no doubt that this will prompt significantly better safeguards, this yet again highlights some of the dangers of living in a world where we place a higher value on convenience and entertainment than we do on security and simplicity.

    Not to sound alarmist, but we can extrapolate this example out to a scenario where someone with malicious intent takes control of thousands of cars simultaneously to create mass chaos and fear. No joke, one such event would have staggering repercussions on peoples’ psyche and on the auto industry writ large.

    To quote Tommy Lee Jones: “A person is smart. *People* are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it! “

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      @hreardon

      You want to see how fast a company can go for real bankrupt?

      Imagine 5000 separate accidents all over the country at the exact same time featuring ‘Company Y’ vehicles that have been remote hacked. People would be leaving their cars parked in the street.

      Talk about your orphan brand bargains.

      Might be time to look at Grand Cherokees again if this story gains enough traction…

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    So, a few years ago a journalist type investigating shady stuff just happened to off himself by driving his late-model C-Class,IIRC, blazing fast late night on the streets of the LA suburbs. At that time, there was chatter among my friends in the local chapter of the ATHC (American Tinfoil-Hat Club)that this wasn’t necessarily an accident and there was more than meets the eye in the event.

    I believe the story even was discussed by Jack Baruth here on TTAC.

    So, a.) just idly wondering if there’s any chance these two stories are linked? Government black-hat hackers are probably at least as advanced as these two….gentlemen….were, undoubtedly. Also, the vehicle hacked here was a Jeep, which until a few years ago was a closely related party to Mercedes. Possibly sharing electrical /software systems still, and thus sharing vulnerabilities? And, b.) Does a hack like this leave any electronic fingerprints? Will it be possible to forensically determine after an….er…accident that the vehicle was hacked which caused the accident? Or can potential hackers hack, cause an accident and unplug and be off without detection?

    Serious questions. Potential auto industry and insurance and law enforcement nightmare. If anyone knows the answers, I’d love to hear discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      Micheal Hastings, That’s the reporters name. Funny thing one of the “hackers” involved in the story, Charlie Miller, is a “former” NSA hacker.

      “That moment was the culmination of almost three years of work. In the fall of 2012, Miller, a security researcher for Twitter and a former NSA hacker, and Valasek, the director of vehicle security research at the consultancy IOActive, were inspired by the UCSD and University of Washington study to apply for a car-hacking research grant from Darpa. With the resulting $80,000, they bought a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape. They spent the next year tearing the vehicles apart digitally and physically, mapping out their electronic control units, or ECUs—the computers that run practically every component of a modern car—and learning to speak the CAN network protocol that controls them.”

    • 0 avatar
      Shinoda is my middle name

      found it. from his Wikipedia page:

      Allegations of foul play, and assertions to the contrary[edit]

      Soon after his death, some described the circumstances surrounding the crash as suspicious.[66]

      Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard A. Clarke said that what is known about the crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack”. He was quoted as saying “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers—including the United States—know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on [Hastings’] car—and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”[67] Earlier the previous day, Hastings indicated that he believed he was being investigated by the FBI. In an email to colleagues, which was copied to and released by Hastings’ friend, Army Staff Sergeant Joe Biggs,[68] Hastings said that he was “onto a big story”, that he needed to “go off the radar”, and that the FBI might interview them.[69][70] WikiLeaks announced that Hastings had also contacted Jennifer Robinson, one of its lawyers, a few hours prior to the crash,[71] and the LA Weekly reported that he was preparing new reports on the CIA at the time of his death.[72] His widow Elise Jordan said his final story was a profile of CIA Director John O. Brennan.[73] The FBI released a statement denying that Hastings was being investigated.[60]


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