Toyota dealers ignore serious software bug

While many people regularly debate regulations and liabilities for software security bugs and vulnerabilities (e.g. on Schneier’s blog here and here), I thought I’d reference a November 3rd, 2005 bulletin from Consumer Affairs that Toyota dealers are selling cars that may “suddenly stall or shut down” due to a software bug:

While the Toyota Motor Corp. is notifying 75,000 Prius owners of a software glitch that can cause the hybrid cars to suddenly stall or shut down, the company is apparently continuing to sell the hybrid vehicles that carry the software problem. […] The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into the stalling problems.

As a side note, I have written previously on Schneier’s blog about the very important role security experts can play in all this (February 25, 2005 12:20 PM):

…the next time you run into public figures like Howard Schmidt, please remind him that he is actually “pro-regulation” when he says that we need fair and balanced laws.

I also debated this with Howard at length at a conference in Scotsdale, AZ in 2004 and again with him via email for a while in 2005 but I apparently did not make a big impact on him. Fundamentally I think his heart’s in the right place, but his extreme view that individual developers are solely responsible for bad code is an incredibly naive view of the economics of software development. Schneier appears to have more balanced perspective.

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