Jeep Cherokee hacked in demo; Chrysler owners urged to download patch

Just imagine, one moment you’re listening to some pleasant pop hits on the radio, and the next moment the hip-hop station is blasting at full volume — and you can’t change it back!

This is just one of the exploits hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek were able to take advantage of when they hacked into a Jeep Cherokee. They were able to change the temperature of the air conditioning, turn on the windshield wipers and blast the wiper fluid to blur the glass, and even disable the brakes, turn off the transmission, take control of the steering, and display their faces onto the dashboard’s screen, as detailed in Wired.

It doesn’t get more terrifying than that.

Though this hack was only for demonstration, any Chrysler that has Internet functionality through “Uconnect,” which includes hundreds of thousands of vehicles, is susceptible to a similar real-life attack. Chrysler recently released a “software update to improve vehicle electronic security,” and though it is unknown if the patch fixes the exploits Miller and Valasek found, users should download it anyway. Users have to visit this link, enter their vehicle ID, download the patch onto a USB drive, and plug the device into the car’s dashboard in order to download the update. Users can also visit a Chrysler dealership, where their vehicles will be updated for free.

In February, Sen. Edward Markey concluded that “many in the automotive industry really don’t understand what the implications are of moving to this new computer-based era.” Though many car makers have went on to say that cybersecurity is a top priority, numerous exploits have been found. Next month at hacking conference Defcon, two security professionals will reveal five unpatched vulnerabilities in Tesla’s popular Model S vehicle.

Photo of a Jeep Cherokee from Associated Press archives

 

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