TECH

Hackers Hijack Jeep Cherokee, Sending Wired Reporter Into Terrifying Spin

22/07/2015 16:13 BST | Updated 22/07/2015 16:59 BST

"Remember Andy," they said "no matter what happens, don’t panic.”

Andy Greenberg is a reporter for Wired who had his Jeep Cherokee hijacked by a couple of hackers.

The order to stay calm came from two voices that were based in a house 10 miles away and the message was a genuine one.

What makes this story less sinister is that Greenberg volunteered to have this car journey taken over by two tracksuit-donning men, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who much to his (and our relief) knew what they were doing.

jeep cherokee hijack

While we're tempted to take comfort in the fact that the reporter's ordeal was an extravagant experiment, what the hackers were actually able to achieve with just two laptops is quite a terrifying reality.

In his report, he describes in excruciating detail how Miller and Valasek were able to toy with every part of the car from the radio volume to its windshield wipers.

After advising him to stay calm, they cut the transmission.

"Immediately my accelerator stopped working," he wrote.

"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."

So how were these two gents, assisting Greenberg, able to pull off the stunt?

The answer is simply: The internet.

Both Miller and Valasek were able to use zero-day exploit -- a phrase the describes any software weaknesses or vulnerabilities -- to hijack the Jeep Cherokee.

The fault stems from Chrysler's vision to make its cars as smart as possible.

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As Greenberg reports, Uconnect turns Jeeps Cherokees into smartphones, allowing you to pull up third party apps such as Yelp and Pandora whilst giving you access to the weather, voice texting features and online music.

However, it also gives anyone who knows the car's IP address full access to the car.

“From an attacker’s perspective, it’s a super nice vulnerability,” Miller told Wired.

Last week Chrysler released an update claiming to "improve" security.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek will release their findings at the hacking conference, Black Hat, in August.