Fiat Chrysler Cracks Down on Data Violators After Ram/Jeep Theft Ring Bust
A Houston-area vehicle-theft ring that used laptops to enter, then steal, over 100 Jeep and Ram vehicles exposed a serious internal security breach at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Now that two arrests have been made in the case, FCA is talking tough and threatening criminal proceedings against anyone who provides outsiders with key vehicle data, Automotive News reports.
Earlier this year, Houston police noticed a trend in vehicle thefts. Certain Ram and Jeep models disappeared from driveways and garages more than any other model, and a private security camera eventually captured one thief using a laptop to enter a Jeep Wrangler, disable its security system, then drive off.
Suspicion fell on hackers, but FCA’s security head told us last month that the thefts aren’t the result of a purpose-built gadget or device.
“Not just anyone can do that — you need to have access to our systems in order to get the information necessary from each vehicle to marry a key fob,” Titus Melnyk, FCA’s senior manager of security architecture, told TTAC, adding that the thefts were the result of someone “abusing their privileges.”
Houston police say the thieves used a laptop, OBD-II plug and software to make off with the vehicles, most of which had crossed the Mexican border by the time their owners noticed them missing.
A FCA spokesperson told the Houston Chronicle that thieves entered the vehicle identification number of a target vehicle into a FCA database to access the code for that vehicle’s key fob. After programming the vehicle’s security system to accept a generic key fob, the Jeep or Ram was theirs for the taking.
The vehicle-theft ring is still active in the Houston area, according to police, and more arrests are likely. Neither the police nor FCA have stated exactly how thieves accessed the automaker’s VIN database.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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