Car hacking risk limited to Fiat Chrysler: Harman International

05 Aug 2015


Harman International Industries Inc, supplier of  car infotainment systems to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV among others says the hacking risk that led to the recall of 1.4 million Chrysler vehicles last month (See: Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 mn vehicles in US after Jeep hack-hijack) seemed to be restricted to the Italian-American automaker.

"We do not believe this problem exists in any other car outside of Fiat Chrysler," Harman chief executive Dinesh Paliwal told Reuters in an interview.

Harman Kardon-branded infotainment products formed part of Fiat Chrysler's internet-connected Uconnect telematics system, a collection of driver aids and entertainment services.

In a recent development, two cyber-security researchers used a software vulnerability in Uconnect to hack into a Jeep Cherokee being driven on the highway, which served to add to the debate over the safety of increasingly connected cars and trucks.

Fiat Chrysler, in association with Harman, has released a software update for the recalled vehicles and also provided customers with additional software to improve security.

Uconnect also uses software and network connectivity provided by other companies.

"Our system was safe and secure," Paliwal said, adding that the issue apparently started due to a "hole" or port opening in a network. "Once you leave the door of the house open, somebody will walk in and they can do whatever they want," he said.

The recall affects vehicles with 8.4-inch touch screens, which included 2013 – 2015 Ram pickups and chassis cabs, Dodge Viper sports cars, 2014 and 2015 Dodge Durangos, Jeep Grand Cherokees, Cherokee SUVs, 2015 Chryslers 200 and 300, as well as Dodge Chargers and Challengers.

In addition to the software update, according to FCA they had made extra security enhancements to their networks for blocking  remote access to certain vehicle features.

Owners of the recalled vehicles would receive a a USB drive, containing the software update, via mail, so they could install the upgrade themselves. It is issuing the recall ''out of an abundance of caution''.

Shortly after the announcement of the recall, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it would launch an investigation to assess whether Fiat Chrysler's recall would be effective.

This comes as the first instance of cars recalled due to a security flaw in ''smart car'' software that offered convenience.

A Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles spokesman said, ''The security of US customers is a top priority, as is retaining their confidence in the company's products''.


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