A recent report from Wired.com revealed hackers taking control of a Jeep while it was still in motion, exploiting a security weakness in Chrysler’s Uconnect console. The hackers fiddled wirelessly with the air conditioning, the radio, and the windshield wipers, and then turned the Jeep’s transmission off.
Headlines in various publications have spread fear over this report. Yet, there is no need to be frightened. The hackers in Wired.com’s report were security professionals searching for weaknesses in the vehicle’s telematics system. They committed their tests in a controlled environment and submitted their findings to Chrysler, who quickly issued a recall.
Jeep’s Uconnect system helps drivers use Bluetooth-enabled cell phones to essentially turn the entire vehicle into a giant smartphone. And with any smartphone, they can, in principle, be hacked. Some hacks are malicious or criminal. Car manufacturers have caught on to the potential for mischief, so they are busy finding and fixing issues—just as they find and fix problems in other aspects of vehicle design.
There is no need to fear a telematics system. Automobiles have always had vulnerabilities—and auto-makers have innovated new mechanisms for combating crime. Everything from locks, to alarms, we’ve developed measures to keep our vehicles safe. Telematics vulnerabilities are new, and many times anything new can seem scary. And this hacking occurrence from Wired.com’s report should not become a regular occurrence.
There is other technology designed to equip drivers and businesses with fleets of vehicles with safety tools while on the road. Numerous GPS tracking solutions incorporate safety features and resources to better monitor drivers and help prevent accidents.
One solution is Teletrac.
The enhanced tracking features Teletrac offers make it easy to find and recover a stolen vehicle. With interactive mapping features, speeding or dangerous driving behavior that may warrant a sudden theft can be quickly detected. Recovering the vehicle within hours, rather than within days, means there is a chance of recovering the cargo as well. The transponder is typically very well hidden and tamper-proof so that thieves cannot find and disable the device. The services can include the option to set alerts to notify fleet managers if a vehicle leaves a designated area or is activated during non-scheduled hours.
Improved communication between the driver and dispatch also means the fleet manager can respond to emergencies immediately instead of only noticing a problem hours later when the vehicle doesn’t arrive as scheduled—that can be a life-saver in the event of a medical emergency or a hijacking. The driver can call in to update the schedule in the event of bad weather, instead of risking driving through dangerous conditions.
While the transportation industry may have new vulnerabilities arising with the evolving landscape of technology, we also have the security of GPS tracking software to look after drivers and their equipment.