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Hackers take control of Jeep, expose software defect

If it seems like we are picking on Fiat Chrysler in our last few posts, we certainly are not. However, the embattled automaker has been in the news for its many failures to correct mechanical and structural issues that have led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to levy a record fine against the company.

But that is not the only thing keeping Fiat Chrysler in the news. In a prior post we highlighted the potential danger of automobiles being hacked by unauthorized users. While this may seem highly unlikely and more like science fiction, a recent article published by tech magazine Wired, suggests that being hacked could actually happen.

Essentially, the article highlighted how hackers took control of a Jeep Cherokee while a person was driving. They were able to slow the car down and bring it to a stop, and then sending it into a ravine despite the driver’s pleas and attempts to prevent it.

The hackers were able to take control of the car by using its entertainment system as a gateway to the car’s functions, including its transmission, acceleration, steering and braking systems. We had noted in a prior post that this problem could occur with any vehicle that has computerized functions and wi-fi capabilities, since they could be infiltrated like any other computer.

Like any other functional problem, automakers have a duty to address defects that allow hackers to take control of vehicles while a person is driving. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable in the event of a crash. 

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