Thursday, August 26, 2021

Episode 60 Are you driving (your computer) with a gun pointed at your head?


You know about the massive Takata airbag recall story, right?

No?! Maybe?

Well, we've got one helluva story to tell you. 

Takata was (keyword "was", the company declared bankruptcy in 2018) a Japanese company founded in 1933, making lifelines for parachutes. In 1988, the company started making airbags for vehicles, lots of vehicles! At its height, Takata owned 20% of the airbag manufacturing market with production facilities on four continents and a market value exceeding 400 billion yen ($3.6 billion).

Things were good at Takata. At least we thought things were good.

The problem, Takata airbags "could rupture and send debris flying inside the vehicle".

The brief timeline of events:

  • In the early 2000s, some Takata managers become aware of inflator failures in their airbags (test report data was altered to hide the failures from carmakers).
  • In 2003, the company learned that an inflator had ruptured in a driver-side airbag. The company did not report the incident to U.S. authorities.
  • In 2004, another inflator ruptured and three more in 2007.
  • In 2008, Honda recalls 4,000 Accords and Civics. Honda knew about more than 100 injuries and 13 deaths related to Takata airbags, starting in about 1998.
  • Around 2009, senior Takata executives become aware of falsified test data that was provided to one or more carmakers.
  • In the Spring of 2013, recalls were issued affecting more than 3.5 million vehicles.
  • In June 2014, Takata admitted that their Mexican subsidiary mishandled "the manufacture of explosive propellants" used in their airbags.
  • Later in June 2014, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota all announced recalls. The total recall now stood at 10.5 million vehicles.
  • In July 2014, a pregnant Malaysian woman was killed. A metal fragment sliced into her neck. (she was going 18 MPH).
  • In November 2014, Takata allegedly ordered technicians to destroy test results.
  • By May 2015, the global recall tops 31 million vehicles.
  • In January 2017, Takata pleads guilty to U.S. criminal charges and agrees to pay a $1 billion fine. Three Takata executives are indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy charges too.

Let's stop for a second... 

What do you call something that uses an explosive propellant to launch a projectile (or "debris")?

It's called a gun.

Today, millions of Takata guns (or ticking timebombs) are still on the road. Late last year, Janett Perez, a U.S. citizen in Mexico was killed when a Takata airbag shot a metallic fragment into her neck too.

Another car accidentally backed into her.

More than 30 car manufacturers have been affected, and the NHTSA ordered an (ongoing) US-wide recall of more than 42 million cars (the largest automotive recall in U.S. history). Worldwide, the estimated size of the recall is roughly 100 million cars.

So what does this have to do with information security? 

Lots actually! The parallels include consumer ignorance, manufacturer negligence, regulatory ineffectiveness, and more. As we integrate technology more and more into our physical world, the parallels become even more frightening.

Let's have a truthful (and downright scary) talk about this shit tonight!

Join us LIVE @10pm CDT, August 26th.

Evan, Ryan, and Chris are sure to have one helluva discussion about this!

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