Car giant to recall 1.4m cars after hackers show they can control them

The interior of a Fiat Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee
The interior of a Fiat Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee

Fiat Chrysler has decided to recall about 1.4 million cars and trucks in the US just days after two hackers detailed how they were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee SUV over the internet.

The company will update software to insulate the vehicles from being remotely controlled, and it said in a statement that hackers are committing a crime by manipulating a vehicle without authorisation.

The recall affects vehicles with 8.4-inch touchscreens.

Fiat Chrysler said it also has taken security measures on its own vehicle network to prevent hacking. Those measures require no customer action and became effective on Thursday.

Fiat Chrysler said it knows of no incidents involving hacking of its vehicles except for the one unveiled this week. Initially the company did not issue a recall, but said it would contact all affected customers about a software update.

The fix is a response to a recent article in Wired magazine about two well-known hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who remotely took control of a Jeep Cherokee through its UConnect entertainment system. They were able to change the vehicle's speed and control the brakes, radio, windscreen wipers, transmission and other features.

Mr Miller said that he did not think the company statement about criminal activity was directed at them because they hacked into a vehicle they own. "I don't think they are saying anything bad against us in that statement, just reminding people that if someone were to hack their car, it'd be against the law," he said.

The issue also drew attention from the US government's road safety agency.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation to check the effectiveness of the Fiat Chrysler recall.