Two hackers, sitting on a sofa 16km away, managed to cut a Jeep’s engine and apply the brakes, sending it into a spin. File photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters.
Two hackers, sitting on a sofa 16km away, managed to cut a Jeep’s engine and apply the brakes, sending it into a spin. File photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters.
The hack was possible because of the Uconnect infotainment system that connects to the internet.
The hack was possible because of the Uconnect infotainment system that connects to the internet.

St Louis, Missouri - experts issued a warning to half a million car owners on Tuesday night after hackers were able to take remote control of a vehicle from around 15km away.

They took over the Jeep Cherokee’s on-board computer via its wireless internet connection and crashed it into a ditch.

The two hackers, security experts sitting on a sofa with a laptop and mobile phone, cut the engine and applied the brakes – sending the Jeep, being driven by a journalist, into a spin. The breach, the first of its kind, was staged in the US city of St Louis by Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek.

They claim that more than 470 000 cars made by the Jeep’s manufacturer Fiat Chrysler - including many in the UK - could be at risk of a similar attack.

GHOST IN THE MACHINE!

Technology writer Andy Greenberg described on Wired.com how the Jeep was hacked as he drove on the highway. As the hackers traced his route, the air vents began pumping out cold air and the radio came on full blast. The wipers and spray turned on, blurring the windscreen, and a picture of the two hackers appeared on the digital display.

Greenberg wrote: “The most disturbing manoeuvre came when they cut the Jeep’s brakes, leaving me frantically pumping the pedal as the two-ton SUV slid uncontrollably into a ditch.”

The hack was possible because of Uconnect, the internet-connected computer feature that has been installed in Fiat Chrysler cars since 2013. Miller and Valasek said all a hacker has to know to break into the controls is the car’s IP address.

Experts warned that the method could be adapted to work on any Uconnect unit.

Fiat Chrysler said the hackers were wrong to disclose information that would help “unlawful” access to vehicle systems.

Daily Mail