Having your car stolen is an absolute nightmare, but having it stolen while you're still behind the wheel is considerably worse.
While the benefits of driving a vehicle that's internet-connected and loaded with in-car tech are numerous, a pair of US cybersecurity researchers have demonstrated that all these bells and whistles can leave modern cars vulnerable to attacks that older models never were.
Based in St Louis, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have spent the last 12 months developing software that exploits a weakness in the Jeep Cherokee's Fiat Chrysler-developed Uconnect system, enabling them to wirelessly hack it from a distance.
Is this a test?
In a controlled test, the pair demonstrated how the Jeep's radio and other inessential features could be manipulated remotely, before moving on to take control of the car's steering, brakes and engine away from the driver.
The cellular connectivity technology attacked by the pair is found in as many as 471,000 vehicles in the US. It uses the Sprint cellular network to connect the car to the internet, enabling owners to use smartphones to activate features such as remote engine start, GPS tracking, and anti-theft measures.
Fiat Chrysler has issued a patch to address the system's vulnerabilities, but Miller and Valasek's demonstration is a sobering reminder of the motoring industry's need to develop secure tech for cars.
It's not all bad news for car tech. The Tesla Model S just hit Ludicrous Speed.
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