PhotoA generation or two ago, young guys liked to mess around with cars, trying to make them faster, louder and generally more disreputable. Then computers came along and all the shade-tree mechanics became hackers.

Now things have come full circle. Cars have become rolling computers, making them objects of desire for hackers, who are having a picnic finding ways to hack into cars' operating systems.

Just a few weeks ago, Fiat Chrysler (FCA USA LLC) conceded that its Uconnect system was vulnerable after researchers took control of a Jeep and shut it down.

Now cybersecurity researchers say they took control of a Tesla Model S and turned it off at low speed, using one of six security flaws they found in the car, the Financial Times reported.

Only a test?

You'll recall this is how the whole hacking phenomenon began -- well-intentioned hacks intended to demonstrate vulnerability, quickly followed by wholesale criminal hacking of just about everything.

"We shut the car down when it was driving initially at a low speed of five miles per hour," Marc Rogers of Cloudflare, a cybersecurity firm, told the newspaper. "All the screens go black, the music turns off and the handbrake comes on, lurching it to a stop."

Rogers was joined in his efforts by Kevin Mahaffey of Lookout. The two said they chose Tesla because of the company's reputation for high-end software.

Tesla said it is issuing a patch, which will be sent to all drivers today. The Chrysler hack also resulted in a "virtual recall," in which patches were downloaded to 1.4 million Jeep Grand Cherokees.

 


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