This is not your usual hack either.
In previous demonstrations, security researchers have needed to get physical access to the target vehicle in order to mess with braking, engine and other critical systems but Andy Greenberg of Wired.com reports that security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek proved that using the Fiat Chrysler Uconnect an internet-connected set of features were able to remotely disable the vehicles transmission without any modification to the vehicle itself. Uconnect a system that provides telecommunications, audio entertainment, GPS navigation and even a mobile Wifi hotspot also shares the onboard network that provides communication between engine control systems, lighting, environmental controls, breaking and transmission controls.
The test was performed on a public road and the hackers were able to change the radio station, operate the windscreen wipers, display a video feed of themselves on the entertainment display and as a final show of power disabled the vehicle’s transmission effectively forcing the car to coast to a stop on a freeway.
Fortunately Andy was able to regain control by restarting the car effectively rebooting the systems but the demonstration was already completed.
A news of the story broke, FIAT Chrysler had no choice but to recall 1.4 million vehicles with the affected systems in for a firmware upgrade that is expected to close the security hole. The patch is applied by plugging a USB drive into the entertainment system that modifies the firmware that was modified in the hack to send control signals to other systems on the car.
At this point, it seems that only vehicles with the Uconnect system in the United States is affected but to be sure it might be best to contact your local FIAT Chrysler dealer for more information.
Andy Greenberg’s story can be found here.