In an ire-raising, thought-inducing incident, two hackers remotely took over the controls of a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee and cut its transmission while it was doing over 100kmph on Interstate 64 in the United States.
In a controlled experiment, the two white-hat hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, hacked into the Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system from a distance of 15km using their laptops. The two were able to turn on the Jeep’s air conditioning, switch radio channels, activate the windshield wipers and its fluid pump and transmit their own photos to the vehicle's digital display.
Uconnect is on the dashboard of about half a million Chrysler vehicles, including several of the automaker's popular brands, all of which the hackers said were at risk. Miller and Valasek selected the Jeep Cherokee after several months' research, because they found that it was the most vulnerable.
In an apparent response, Chrysler posted an online notice about a patch for the Uconnect flaw and said the software update would offer customers improved vehicle electronic security and communications system enhancements. Chrysler added that owners can download and install the free update themselves, or bring their vehicle to a dealer who will do it at no charge.