Right now a number of news outlets are letting everyone know that two hackers were able to successfully take control of different systems on a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. It’s a scary thought for anyone who’s really thinking about the possible implications, because your vehicle could suddenly stop functioning as it should while you’re traveling 75 mph down the freeway, and you might not be able to do anything about it.
Fortunately, the hackers weren’t trying to hurt anyone, but instead were calling attention to a security flaw that Fiat Chrysler needed to address, and has. Owners of affected vehicles can either have a dealership install a software patch or can do it themselves.
Some are breathing a sigh of relief as they say that a potential disaster has been averted, while others are busy screaming that the sky is falling. Various groups are pointing to this example to highlight why driving a car that has no computer technology in it (you know, no fuel injection) is the only safe mode of transportation. Others say that the scenario exposes the risks of autonomous vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler put out a press release that downplays hacks, stating that various industries are hacked every day in this crazy modern world of ours. Of course, there’s a big difference between having your debit card info stolen from Target’s system and having your Chrysler 300 crash into a concrete barrier at 50 mph.
The U.S. government is coming to the rescue, reports Car and Driver, via a bill that would create cybersecurity standards for cars. Automakers would be required to push out software updates more frequently. Vehicle owners could use Internet-based features without the fear that they’re being tracked by anyone. So far it sounds good, but only a draft has been posted, so things could change.
The Wired report did indicate that the hackers had the IP address for the Cherokee, making the whole wireless takeover of different systems possible. It’s not entirely easy for someone to get that information about a random vehicle, so for the moment it’s not likely that some thirteen year-old who’s mad that his mom won’t let him play GTA 5 will act out his violent fantasies with your car. Still, the fact is that everyone should be concerned about the fact that someone could control a vehicle remotely, at least somewhat, but it’s not time to panic and buy a crappy car from 1974. Yet.