News and Press

Washington Post: ‘Car hacking’ just got real: In experiment, hackers disable SUV on busy highway

It was a driver’s worst nightmare.

Andy Greenberg was speeding along a busy interstate in St. Louis recently when he suddenly lost control of his vehicle. The accelerator abruptly stopped working. The car crawled to a stop. As 18-wheelers whizzed by his stalled vehicle, Greenberg began to panic.

His car hadn’t spun out on black ice, however. It hadn’t been hit by another vehicle or experienced engine trouble.

It had been hacked.

Greenberg, a senior writer for Wired magazine, had asked Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek — two “white hat” or altruistic hackers — to show him what they could do.

So, while Greenberg drove down the highway, Miller and Valasek sat on Miller’s couch 10 miles away and played God.

“Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system,” Greenberg wrote. “Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.