BlackBerry denies its OS was to blame in Jeep Cherokee hack

The company claims the cause of the vulnerability lies in how the software stack was assembled by Chrysler

Chrysler's Uconnect remote-control app. Even if you don't want any other tech on your car, being able to control some basic car functions from your phone is the a big step up from today's key fob.

Chrysler's Uconnect remote-control app. Even if you don't want any other tech on your car, being able to control some basic car functions from your phone is the a big step up from today's key fob.

Responding to an accusatory blog post, BlackBerry has again denied that its embedded operating system caused the potentially dangerous vulnerability recently demonstrated in Chrysler Jeep Cherokees.

Last month, security researchers demonstrated how to circumnavigate the in-vehicle entertainment system of the Jeep Cherokee to take over the car itself, including control of the dashboard, steering mechanism, transmission, locks, and brakes.

Over 1.4 million vehicles have subsequently been recalled to fix the problem. The dealerships will install updated software, though owners can install the update themselves.

The Chryslers being recalled all run the QNX Neutrino OS, which was supplied by BlackBerry subsidiary QNX Software Systems. But the flaw being exploited was not within the OS itself, BlackBerry said Monday in its blog.

"The vulnerability came about through certain architecture and software components that are unrelated to the QNX Neutrino OS," the post reads.

The researchers themselves did not target QNX specifically, but rather the connectivity software that runs on top of QNX, called uConnect which, using cellular connections, offers Internet access, navigation, voice command capabilities and other features to drivers.

According to the researchers, Chrysler implemented uConnect in a way that can let external users, such as malicious hackers, access the vehicle's control bus, which taps into critical car systems.

BlackBerry first denied culpability when news of the hack first surfaced in July. But an item posted Friday on the financial blog site Seeking Alpha raised the issue again, speculating that QNX shared some of the blame.

"I think it's clear that everyone involved had a hand in this massive design failure. Clearly, the demarcation line between operating system and applications was nonexistent or at best ineffective," reads the post from an anonymous blogger who claims to have decades of experience as a software architect. Anonymous contributors must give Seeking Alpha their real name and contact information.

Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the owners of the recalled automobiles.

The lawsuit does not include BlackBerry, instead focusing on Chrysler and Harman, which supplied the vehicle's audio system.

Still, BlackBerry might be particularly sensitive to allegations tying it to the hack, given that the company has been shifting its mission in recent years from selling mobile handsets to providing security software for enterprise and embedded mobile systems

QNX is an Unix-based operating system designed for the embedded systems market by Quantum Software Systems (later called QNX Software System). BlackBerry purchased QNX in 2010. The QNX Neutrino OS has been installed in more than 60 million vehicles.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Blackberrysecuritymobile securitymalware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?