Range Rovers Recalled Over Software Lock Bug

Depending on where you live, it may be a requirement to drive around with your windows up and the doors locked in order to avoid thieves and other malcontents when stopping at junctions (if you don’t know what I mean there are certain parts of London I could point you toward).

While such a strategy doesn’t guarantee your safety, it certainly enhances it, making you a high hanging fruit, so to speak.

But what if someone, or something, could unlock your doors without you knowing?

Would that worry you? Even if you aren’t too concerned about being hijacked at the traffic lights, it does pose a risk of having your car stolen. And what would it do to your insurance premiums?

Well, such an eventuality seems to be a possibility with Range Rover and Range Rover Sport vehicles sold in the UK in the last two years.

The manufacturer – Land Rover – is recalling over 65,000 affected vehicles due to a software bug that reportedly led to doors opening of their own accord, including one incident in which a driver said his door opened while the car was on the move.

Land Rover, fortunately, has said that there have been no accidents or injuries as a result of the bug.

Of course many of you may well remember that it is not just strange glitches that have affected the company – last year certain Range Rover models (as well as BMW X5s) were specifically targeted by thieves who probably used a small handheld “black box” to unlock and start cars that relied upon keyless ignition systems.

That incident did indeed lead to thefts and higher insurance premiums for some, not to mention a whole load of inconvenience, as insurers told owners to only park in secure car parks and garages, or insisted upon the installation of tracking systems that could be used if the car was subsequently swiped.

Bad times for Range Rover owners then but what can we learn from this?

As ever, there is a message about an over-reliance on technology. I cannot comment on Range Rover specifically but I have a feeling that many firms pump out tech with an eye on the bottom line first, offering new and exciting features they think will entice customers to buy their product, but without the required level of thought about the security aspect. Or, if not security, simply the thorough testing of systems and software.

And that’s a big problem. Not just in the automotive industry but across every industry.

The desire for ‘new,’ ‘flashy’ and ‘shiny’ seems to mesmerise people to such distraction that they often only look at the surface level. No-one seems to consider ‘security,’ ‘risk’ or ‘human error’ enough. Or at least that’s my opinion.

Now, if only we could change that viewpoint, don’t you think our cars would stay locked when they are supposed to, thieves aside?

And if we could make our cars safer, what else?

Who knows! It’s up to you, the consumer – caveat emptor… or should that be emptor conscius?

2 Comments

  1. Nick Barron says:

    Worth noting though that the vast majority of vehicles have pretty shoddy physical security, easily bypassed by simple physical attacks.

    Not that this means we should ignore software vulnerabilities, but it would be interesting to see if the increase in software has actually made any difference to the vulnerability of car door controls.

  2. Lee Munson says:

    Good point Nick – number of keyless cars stolen vs ‘old-fashioned’ motors swiped after a brick through the window would make interesting reading.

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