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Modern Cars: When Someone Else Takes Control

October 17, 2015 Hastings and Hastings

Modern, technologically advanced cars are amazing. Drivers can stream music, communicate using Bluetooth, receive constant up-to-date traffic information, learn about the quickest and most efficient routes, and never lose touch with the world. Computers provide constant and in-depth information about their car. They help you park and tell you when to get an oil change. In a frightening turn of events, it also appears that your modern car might also leave you vulnerable.

Hackers take over

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have discovered they have the ability to take over cars by remote. They can hack into the computer system of a running a car and take over control. They experimented with this ability on a Jeep Cherokee. Whitney Curtis, of Wired Magazine, was the unfortunate test dummy behind the wheel when Miller and Valasek pulled their stunt. He was cruising the streets of St. Louis at 70 mph, when suddenly he lost control. The radio blasted, the windshield wipers started swinging back and forth, and eventually the car’s engine was turned off, leaving him stranded. It is important to note that Curtis was not in this situation unwillingly, rather, he was there as part of a test.

The Dangers of Connection

Miller and Valasek used the Jeep Cherokee’s internet connected entertainment system as their way into the car’s control systems. The attack was run using the cellular connection on a burner phone, making their hijinks almost untraceable. They performed the hack and published their exploits in Wired Magazine to share with the world the vulnerably of internet connected cars. Their goal was to encourage car manufacturers to step up the level of security protecting internet connected cars. They may have been successful, at least for this specific exploit, as Chrysler has already released a patch which will protect their cars from this type of attack in the future. The gauntlet has been thrown, and the world is now aware, internet connected cars may have a weakness, one we would do best to protect.