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Fiat Chrysler Launches Bug Bounty Program

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced on Wednesday the launch of a bug bounty program aimed at improving the cybersecurity of the company’s vehicles.

The carmaker has chosen the Bugcrowd platform to host its bug bounty program and is prepared to offer between $150 and $1,500 for every vulnerability discovered by researchers in FCA hardware and software.

The program covers hardware systems such as TPMS sensors, the head unit and keyless entry, and software products like the Uconnect website and mobile applications, and the MOPAR Owner Connect site. Other FCA websites, including brand and marketing sites, are excluded from the program.

Hackers have been advised to register a special Uconnect account that ends in @bugcrowdninja.com for testing purposes. Participants have also been asked to avoid privacy violations, service disruptions, and destruction of data.

FCA’s decision to launch a bug bounty program comes after researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek showed last year that the company’s vehicles can be remotely hacked through a vulnerability in the Uconnect system. The experts demonstrated on a 2014 Jeep how an attacker could take over the infotainment system, kill the engine, and even disable the brakes. The researchers’ findings led to the company recalling 1.4 million vehicles.

“Automotive cybersafety is real, critical, and here to stay. Car manufacturers have the opportunity to engage the community of hackers that is already at the table and ready to help, and FCA US is the first full-line automaker to optimize that relationship through its paid bounty program,” commented Casey Ellis, CEO and founder of Bugcrowd.

FCA is not the first carmaker to launch a bug bounty program. Similar programs are run by Tesla and General Motors, but the latter is not offering any monetary rewards.

David Barzilai, connected car security expert and co-founder of Karamba Security, believes such bug bounty programs would be unnecessary if carmakers focused on hardening the electronic control unit (ECU) and implemented security mechanisms to prevent attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in connected systems.

Over the past years, the auto industry has announced several new initiatives aimed at enhancing cybersecurity in their products, including an intelligence sharing center and partnerships focused on developing security-related technologies and practices.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.