You're driving along the highway, or through a crowded intersection, or down a quiet neighborhood street and suddenly, you lose control of your car's radio. Or its engine. Or its breaks.
Someone else is controlling your car that's not you.
It might sound like science fiction, but it's the dangerous reality that WIRED senior writer Andy Greenberg faced in a recent video for the publication, featuring two car hackers who managed to mess with his car without even being in it.
"It's not fun to have your two ton SUV's breaks hacked — Just as you're parking in front of a ditch," WIRED senior writer Andy Greenberg says.
Charlie Miller, Security Engineer at Twitter, and Chris Valasek, Director of Vehicle Safety Research at IOActive, have created a software that can hack into a jeep using its Internet through a cellular connection.
Essentially, this software, capable of hacking into a car from miles away, can affect steering, transmission, and the brakes.
To show us just what they're talking about, they decided to stick Greenberg into a Jeep that they would then control from a living room.
"Remember Andy, no matter what happens, don't panic," Miller says from his safe station.
The hackers start out simple: First, they take over the fan, then they turn the volume up uncontrollably high so Greenberg can barely hear them.
Then things get a little dangerous. Miller and Valasek turn on the windshield wipers and splash wiper fluid before they completely cut the engine.
Though Greenberg's been assured that the hackers won't let anything bad happen, he begins to panic (and understandably so).
"Seriously, it's f*cking dangerous, I need to move," Greenberg says, and he pulls over — on the highway.
In the article following the hacking experiment, Greenberg explains how this works — and how drivers can protect themselves.
"All of this is possible only because Chrysler, like practically all carmakers, is doing its best to turn the modern automobile into a smartphone. Uconnect, an Internet-connected computer feature in hundreds of thousands of Fiat Chrysler cars, SUVs, and trucks, controls the vehicle's entertainment and navigation, enables phone calls, and even offers a Wi-Fi hot spot," Greenberg writes for WIRED.
But it's vulnerable. "Uconnect's cellular connection also lets anyone who knows the car's IP address gain access from anywhere in the country. 'From an attacker's perspective, it's a super nice vulnerability,' Miller says."
According to Greenberg's article, as of now, software updates to ensure security are available, but must be "manually implemented via a USB stick or by a dealership mechanic."
But, as Greenberg explains in the WIRED video, a lot more needs to be done — it's the only way to ensure the safety and wellbeing for a future generation of drivers.
Because they should be the only ones in control.
Be sure to read Greenberg's full report for more information. It's a terrifying example of just how far technology is come — and just how alert we should be.