(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Bloomberg View) — It’s a scenario out of a Stephen King novel: A driver cruising along a busy highway suddenly finds his car taken over by an outside force. First it’s just the radio, the wipers and the air conditioning behaving chaotically. Then – - as an 18-wheeler bears down at high speed — the transmission shuts down.

All this actually happened to the Wired journalist Andy Greenberg recently when he agreed to let two hackers go to work on an Internet-connected Jeep he was driving. The hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, have been conducting government-funded research into the security of smart auto systems. They were able to take control of the Jeep from 10 miles away. Some 471,000 cars on the road are vulnerable to such attacks, they estimate. Their experiment should serve as a wake- up call to car manufacturers — and everyone else.

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