Since the late 1960s, cars have had computers in them, and with each passing decade, the computers get more powerful. In today's cars, they monitor everything about the engine and make it run more efficiently.
The computers in modern cars also run the steering, traction control, airbags, cruise control, tire management, security, entertainment and more. That's great for safety, comfort, convenience and efficiency, but there's an unavoidable downside: Computers can be hacked.
Until recently, hacking a car's onboard computer to cause chaos was either a theoretical security exercise or a scene in a Hollywood movie. Then in 2013, two hackers named Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek changed everything when they brought it into the real world.
While that first demo was scary, it still required hackers to physically connect a laptop to the car's computers and be sitting in the back seat. That's not the kind of hack that's going to affect regular motorists unless they're very unobservant. So, the world kept moving along as usual.
Everything changed when Miller and Valasek showed off a new way to hack a car from a distance. This time, it's a very big deal.