CARS.COM — Nissan shut down the NissanConnect EV app for Its Leaf electric car after an online security expert was able to remotely control a Leaf's climate controls through the app. Nissan said late Wednesday that it will launch updated apps soon.
"The NissanConnect EV app (formerly called CarWings and used for the Nissan Leaf) is currently unavailable," according to a Nissan statement. "This follows information from an independent IT consultant and subsequent internal Nissan investigation that found the dedicated server for the app had an issue that enabled the temperature control and other telematics functions to be accessible via a non-secure route."
Troy Hunt, who lives in Australia, published a blog post and video on Tuesday, along with the code showing how some Leaf functions were controlled via the internet. The video shows security researcher and Leaf owner Scott Helme sitting in his car in northern England while Hunt activated some of Helme's car's controls. Hunt turned on the climate control and seat heater. He also accessed Helme's driving history.
The researchers discovered that all they needed was the vehicle identification number of a Leaf registered with the app to access that Leaf's functions and records. Hunt couldn't remotely start the car or unlock the doors.
Nissan reported "the issue was with the server for the apps" and apologized to customers. The company noted that "the only functions that are affected are those controlled via the mobile phone — all of which are still available to be used manually, as with any standard vehicle."
Hunt advises Leaf owners to deregister from the app and to reconnect only when the service has been properly secured. He doesn't foresee any major problems for shoppers considering a Leaf.
"I wouldn't let this influence the buying decision of the Leaf unless the connected services were an important part of the purchasing decision. I have no reason to be concerned about the safety or function of the vehicle outside of the risks I described in the blog post," wrote Hunt in an email to Cars.com.
Leaf owners also can use Nissan's owners website for charging, climate control and other functions. "The web portal is still operational and is safe to use," said Nissan spokesman Steve Yaeger.