Car crashed into ditch by hackers that remotely took control via a laptop.
Car Hackers Deliberately Steer Into Ditch
A Jeep Cherokee was crashed into a ditch by hackers that took control via a laptop ten miles away, Wired.com revealed. The perpetrators also switched-on a range of systems to disorientate the motorist. Rather than a reckless act, the hackers were demonstrating – with the consent of the driver - that motor manufacturers have to ensure their products are as immune as practical from any hackers that might have less honourable motives.
Car Hackers Take Control Of Range Of Systems
The Cherokee was proceeding unhindered in St. Louis, United States. The two hackers - Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek - were ten miles away armed with a laptop computer. They then accessed the vehicle via its entertainment system that was connected to the internet. The first intrusion was the ventilation system that started blowing full power. The radio then tuned to a hip-hop station at maximum volume. The motorist could not turn off the latter via the dashboard. The windscreen wipers and washer jets were activated too, and a picture of the hackers appeared on the vehicle's screen.
There was more to follow. The hackers deactivated the transmission which made the throttle useless. The car – that was on a fast road with no hard shoulder and an incline – slowed to a crawl. It was swamped by traffic some of which honked. The driver said at this point the experiment “ceased to be fun”. An eighteen wheel lorry had appeared in the rear-view mirror, after all. He regained some control by switching the engine off/on and crawled into a car park.
The hackers – presumably on a closed road – later cut the brakes and it “slid uncontrollably into a ditch” despite the motorist “frantically” pumping the brake peddle. The impact was minimal. They also had the power to brake suddenly and/or switch-off the engine. The laptop had some steering control too (in reverse only).
Wired.com said the Jeep's vulnerability came from its Uconnect system. This connects it – and other Fiat Chrysler products – to the internet and performs functions such as creating a wi-fi hotspot. Miller and Valasek said their attack “seems to work on any Chrysler vehicle with Uconnect from late 2013, all of 2014, and early 2015”, Wired.com said. The manufacturer – with help from the hackers – responded with a patch that can be installed via USB to prevent tampering. Fiat continuously tests for vulnerabilities, it told Wired.com.
But let us be fair. Wireless security is an industry wide issue, not just Fiat's, and every manufacturer has to stay ahead of the hackers.
Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.4 million cars
Since this story broke, Fiat Chrysler, who own the Jeep brand have issued a safety recall of 1.4 million cars in the US. The automaker said it was issuing a voluntary recall to update the software in affected vehicles and called vehicle hacking a ‘criminal action’.
A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler told the BBC that no vehicles sold in the UK were affected.