Watch hackers remotely immobilize a car while it's traveling on a highway

Two hackers were able to remotely disable the transmission of a Jeep Cherokee while a Wired journalist was driving it at about 70 miles per hour on a highway.

Hackers hack Jeep connected car Wired

One brave Wired journalist agreed to drive a Jeep on a St. Louis highway while two hackers hacked it remotely, taking control of everything from the air conditioning to the transmission.

The entire ordeal was captured on video, which you can view with the article at Wired. 

The hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, had just two years earlier performed a similar hack while the same journalist drove a car slowly in a parking lot. The bigger difference that time was that the hack was performed through a laptop that was hardwired to the car's onboard diagnostic port, and which the hackers controlled from the backseat. In that case, they limited their exploits to toying with the seatbelt and honking the horn.

See also: For $60, you can hack a connected car

This time around, the hackers graduated to disabling the car's transmission remotely while the car was moving. Wired's Andy Greenberg, who agreed to drive the car without any idea what the hackers were planning to do while he was behind the wheel, describes what happened next:

Immediately my accelerator stopped working. As I frantically pressed the pedal and watched the RPMs climb, the Jeep lost half its speed, then slowed to a crawl. This occurred just as I reached a long overpass, with no shoulder to offer an escape. The experiment had ceased to be fun.

At that point, the interstate began to slope upward, so the Jeep lost more momentum and barely crept forward. Cars lined up behind my bumper before passing me, honking. I could see an 18-wheeler approaching in my rearview mirror. I hoped its driver saw me, too, and could tell I was paralyzed on the highway.

Miller and Valasek are planning to release more information on the exploit they used to perform the hack in accordance with their presentation at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month. The video shows Greenberg go through this process.

The Jeep hack is just the latest example of hackers looking to exploit the increasingly connected car. At the Black Hat Asia conference in March, a former Tesla intern introduced an open source toolkit and a $60 device that allows hackers to remotely search a connected car for security vulnerabilities.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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