Customer files lawsuit against Toyota, GM & Ford over hacking risks

Lawsuit Claims Toyota, GM & Ford Deceived Consumers About Hacking issues with Connected Cars

Three customers have gotten together and filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota, Ford and General Motors. The lawsuit filed by Helene Cahen, Kerry J. Tompulis and Merrill Nisam in the US District Court in California alleges that the three car manufacturers knowingly put consumers at risk by selling connected cars that can be susceptible to hackers looking to remotely control vehicle functionality.

The lawsuit [PDF] also alleges that these car manufacturers deliberately misled consumers by hiding the dangers associated with computer car systems and failing to address subsequent safety concerns.

Connected car hacking is a very big problem which was recently brought up by the TV program ’60 Minutes’ episode which shows that hackers could use a laptop to take over total control of a connected car, allowing them to remotely operate everything from the horn to the wipers to the brakes.

“When the car manufacturers introduce a new technology in their vehicles, and tout its benefits, they must test the technology to ensure that it functions properly,” the suit states. “But Defendants failed consumers in all of these areas when they sold or leased vehicles that are susceptible to computer hacking and are therefore unsafe. Because Defendants failed to ensure the basic electronic security of their vehicles, anyone can hack into them, take control of the basic functions of the vehicle, and thereby endanger the safety of the driver and others.”

While cars get more and more automatic and smarter with technological innovations, it also becomes a living coffin if it can be hacked and hijacked by hackers. It can also be used for terrorist attacks by remotely sending the car to the target destinations.

We had also reported a 14 year old kid being able to hack a connected car, operate its wipers, headlights, remotely start and stop it, with a $15 handmade circuit. Thats how easy it gets.

The plaintiffs argue that all the three manufacturers, Toyota, GM and Ford knew for years that their CAN equipped vehicles have been susceptible to hacking and that ECUs cannot detect or stop the attacks, but have done little to address the issues.

“The CAN in all Toyota vehicles, Ford vehicles, and GM vehicles are essentially identical in that they are all susceptible to hacking and thus suffer from the same defect,” the suit states.

The suit claims that defects in the security of the networks allow hackers to take control of such basic functions such as braking, steering and acceleration, while preventing the driver from regaining control of the vehicle.