The following is an excerpt from a piece featured in Wired at the end of July:
As the two hackers remotely toyed with the air-conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers, I mentally congratulated myself on my courage under pressure. That’s when they cut the transmission.Immediately my accelerator stopped working. As I frantically pressed the pedal and watched the RPMs climb, the Jeep lost half its speed, then slowed to a crawl. This occurred just as I reached a long overpass, with no shoulder to offer an escape. The experiment had ceased to be fun.
At that point, the interstate began to slope upward, so the Jeep lost more momentum and barely crept forward. Cars lined up behind my bumper before passing me, honking. I could see an 18-wheeler approaching in my rearview mirror. I hoped its driver saw me, too, and could tell I was paralyzed on the highway.
Full Wired Article
No hyperbole would overstate the importance of this report. Think about it like this: hacking movies are either boring or inaccurate. Why? Because hacking movies are about hacking; until this article was released hacking has been one static computer secretly getting into another static computer. Yes some information might end up in the wrong hands, some electronic money might go to a suspicious bank account or an adulterer might “get his comeuppance”.
The worst that the general public have ever hear about hacking is that one government attacked another government and shut down some nuclear facility. It’s all very abstract and distant.
Now that’s all changed. Due to the pioneering work of Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek the problem just got extremely personal. The problem just got real, real fucking quickly.
When you start to think about this, you think about fears of personal safety and the safety of your family, “now I could be driving on the motorway and suddenly my car cuts out and we all crash to our deaths”. The fear becomes even more intimidating because we can’t turn it off. There’s no airplane mode or Wi-Fi off button for the car.
Finally there’s the existential fear – our cars are computerised, connected and capable of attack – the public are so far out of the knowledge loop; we’ve been blindsided. If our cars are already computerised maybe it’s time to give over full control and usher in the era of the self-driving car, maybe we’ll be safer letting the computer takeover. So, maybe that final fear isn’t universal like personal and familial safety, but there’s something deep inside me that connects the car, the open road and freedom; if we give up that symbol of freedom to the computer, it might be more than the symbol that’s left in the dust.