Fiat Chrysler recalling 7,810 Jeep Renegades for hacking risk

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By Chris Perkins2015-09-04 22:51:46 UTC

If you own a 2015 Jeep Renegade, you might need to patch your software.

Late Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced that they are conducting a voluntary recall of 7,810 2015 Jeep Renegades equipped with 6.5-inch touchscreen radios for a hacking vulnerability. This comes a little over a month after FCA recalled 1.4 Million vehicles equipped with its Uconnect infotainment system for a remote hacking risk.

In a statement, FCA said this risk isn’t related to the recent hacking recall, since exploiting the vulnerability would require a physical connection with the car. The company hasn’t seen any cases of this issue outside of its own testing and it’s only issuing a recall "out of an abundance of caution."

FCA said it found the vulnerability itself and it was not brought to the company by outside researchers.

While it seems like it’s more-or-less just a security patch — and note that most of the recent car hacks haven’t posed a significant threat to consumers — the timing of it raises some eyebrows. Friday before a long weekend in the U.S. generally isn’t a time to push out a story one wants widely publicized.

Also interesting is the fact that FCA is issuing a recall rather than a technical service bulletin (TSB), which is typically used in such non-major issues.

A representative for FCA said that a recall is "a more robust process to engage customers" than a TSB. Issuing a recall means the software has a higher likelihood of being patched.

To patch the vulnerability, owners can download the software update on to a USB stick and install it themselves or bring it to a dealership. FCA will also be sending out USB sticks with the patch.

Of course, 7,810 vehicles is paltry compared to the 1.8 million previously recalled for hacking. Plus, security-patches in non-automotive software are extremely commonplace and generally not newsworthy.

With the many recent stories about car hacking research, consumers and automakers are more aware of cybersecurity threats in cars than ever. This sort of story will become more commonplace in the future as automakers take a more vigilant approach in finding these sorts of vulnerabilities.

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