Can Hackers Take Full Control of Your Vehicle? Prepare to Be Surprised

Can hackers one day control your vehicle?Last summer, a duo of cybersecurity researchers shocked the automotive industry when they remotely took over several functions of a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee during a demonstration for Wired. If you remember the controversy surrounding this incident, the two hackers turned on the windshield wipers, changed the radio, and took over other functions of a Jeep containing a journalist for Wired. This led Fiat Chrysler to issue a software-related vehicle recall for certain models of its Jeep Grand Cherokees.

This year’s demonstration by the same two hackers at the Black Hat security conference will shock you. Instead of turning on windshield wipers or forcing the car to select a radio station with terrible music, the demonstration involved taking full control of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. These functions include acceleration, steering and braking. Although this new hack requires the two cybersecurity researchers to plug into the vehicle using a laptop (instead of through the internet like last year’s demonstration), they have warned future wireless attacks on vehicles are inevitable.

This statement matches a warning issued by the FBI earlier this year. In March, the FBI and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned vehicle hacking could become a public safety threat. Vehicle hacking is further evidence that software recalls are going to become increasingly common. Two months ago, Popular Science published an article claiming software bugs are to blame for 15 percent of vehicle recalls.

What You Should Know About Software-Related Vehicle Recalls

Our society is used to auto defects involving airbags, transmission systems, car seats or tires. When automakers issue a recall, consumers drive up to their local dealerships to receive fixes free of charge. Now and in the future, this process may sometimes be done online or through the mail. Vehicle owners were mailed a USB drive with a software update for Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee recall! No visit to the local dealership was required.

Car owners should always stay informed on vehicle recalls. One way to do this is by visiting NHTSA’s website, http://www.safercar.gov.

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