The 2008 film Untraceable was relentlessly mocked for its comically inaccurate portrayal of cyber crime. “He’s hacked into my car’s computer!” was a line in the trailer that was particularly (and painfully) funny. Now that hackers have successfully shut down a car on a busy highway, it’s not as funny.

Fortunately the hacking was done at the request of the senior editor of Wired magazine, who was not hurt when he lost control of his Jeep Cherokee on a busy St. Louis interstate. He wanted to see what hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek could do, so what they did was turn his climate control to the coldest setting, switch his radio station and crank up the volume, turn on his wipers and wiper fluid, obscurring his vision, and finally cut his engine – all remotely.

Two senators have already introduced a bill designed to prevent such attacks, which can be carried out from the comfort of one’s own home. In this particular instance, Miller and Valasek exploited a weakness in Uconnect, a feature present in as many as 471,000 Fiat Chrysler late-model automobiles. All they needed was a laptop computer and the car’s IP address. Even they were surprised at how much they could pull off. Not only were they able to cut the engine, but they also possessed the capability of disabling the brakes.


If you think it was irresponsible for them to make them information public, don’t worry. They first took the information to Chrysler, who have since put out a patch to prevent further occurences. According to Charlie Miller, the patch works.

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