Even with all the buzz over the past years regarding cars’ reliance on digital interfaces – and some consequent concern regarding their vulnerability to cyber attacks – chances are, it’s something you’ve never thought twice about. The prospect of someone hacking your Jeep Cherokee, after all, and turning it into an uncompliant metal death trap with a mind of its own seems somehow distant and far-fetched.
But for the past year, hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have been researching an uncovered security vulnerability within Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect system. Andy Greenberg from electronic gadgetry magazine WIRED volunteered to drive a Jeep Cherokee in proximity to Miller and Valasek in order to witness firsthand some of the possible effects of an attack.
To cut a dreadfully fascinating story short, WIRED reports that through hacking into the Jeep Cherokee’s Uconnect system, Miller and Valasek have gained access which allows them to commit such terrors as commandeering the HVAC system and radio functions, crippling the transmission, abruptly applying the brakes or cutting them altogether, and killing the engine. In other words, the hacker duo’s wish is the Jeep Cherokee’s immediate command.
And the two can do all this over the internet, theoretically from anywhere in the country.
Thankfully, though, Miller and Valasek have only benevolent intentions; they have been working alongside Fiat Chrysler for the past 9 months in order to help develop a Uconnect software patch that will hopefully prevent such attacks in the future. That Uconnect patch has just become available, and can be applied at one’s local FCA dealership on any of the following vulnerable models: