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It's finally happened: a vehicle has been remotely hijacked by hackers.
We've seen attempts at vehicle hacking before -- none of which were especially awe-inspiring or frightening -- but this? Well, as Wired reports, this is a little different.
Thankfully, the mischief was carried out by two good guys, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek -- the same duo that hacked a Toyota Prius two years ago. In the case of the Prius, though, Miller and Valasek had to dismantle large portions of the vehicle and plug directly into its computer, remaining onboard to do their dirty work.
That made the real-world implications of the hacking less daunting: if the missing sections of dashboard didn't tip-off a driver that something was up, she'd probably notice the two guys in the backseat, their grins illuminated by the glow of a laptop. As a result, the Prius incident didn't raise alarms in the auto industry the way that Miller and Valasek had hoped.
And so, they decided to up their game.
They called up the same driver/writer/guinea pig who drove the Prius, Andy Greenberg, and invited him to Miller's hometown of St. Louis. They handed him the keys to a Jeep Cherokee and told him to drive. And before he hit the highway, they provided him with some sage advice, courtesy of Douglas Adams: "Don't panic".
Then, Miller and Valasek sat down in Miller's living room, and using some off-the-shelf hardware and some custom software, they began to scare the crap out of Mr. Greenberg.
The entire article is well worth a read -- especially if you own a vehicle from 2013, 2014, or 2015 that's equipped with Chrysler's Uconnect. Here are some of the high points:
The good news is that Miller and Valasek have been sharing their info with the folks at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for some time, and FCA has taken the matter very seriously, issuing software updates to address vulnerabilities. (Though as Greenberg points out, the most recent Uconnect update has to be done via a jump drive or at a dealership, which means that owners may be slow to get it. You can download it and put it on your own USB drive here.*)