These days cars are almost entirely controlled by computers. From all the sensors on the car, to actual automated parking and braking systems that can take control of the steering wheel, they're all controlled by on-board ECUs -- effectively connected computers. Of course, any computer can be hacked, with potentially catastrophic effects.
We were worried when Microsoft stuck a form of Windows in the car, but were assured that the Microsoft bit was hardware firewalled from the rest of the car; the worst that could happen is that the radio could be hacked. But as these DARPA hackers show, you don't need Microsoft in your car to enable it to be remotely taken over.
This proof of concept test shows that pretty much anything on the car that involves some sort of computer can be messed with. When it comes to the automated braking, steering and safety systems, there's a lot of potential for sending you careering into a crash, if someone really tried.
Admittedly, here the researchers have had to get behind the dash to do all this, but when your car ends up with an internet connection, anything's possible. All that connected car stuff of the future better have some seriously good safety protocols to stop some nefarious type getting into your motor, that's for sure. [Forbes via Jalopnik]