Video: Watch what happens when a Prius gets hacked

Security engineers take over the various computerized systems of a Toyota hybrid and wirelessly control it

Thanks to advances in computerized controls, cars have gone from humble modes of transportations to high-tech pieces of advanced machinery. While the convenience, safety features, and "wow" factors are good, there is a downside to having all this onboard technology: Where there are computers, there are vulnerabilities to hackers.

In the video above, Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, and Charlie Miller, a security engineer at Twitter, have thoroughly pwned your basic Toyota Prius. The car's various systems have more than 30 control units, and as Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg drives, Valasek and Miller toy with him via a laptop. Valasek and Miller pull some basic pranks: honking the horn, messing with the digital fuel gage, or making the speedometer read 199mph -- possible only in a fever dream of a Prius gone mad! But these hacks can be much more threatening as well.

For example, making the speedometer read 199mph makes the car think it actually is going 199mph, which brings its safety systems into play. In fact, Valasek and Miller ask Greenberg to turn off the car after their speedometer prank, most likely to head off the car deploying its airbag when its speed drops rapidly from 199mph to the actual number, which the car would interpret as a crash.

They also cause the steering wheel to jerk around by making the car think it's in reverse and activating the auto-park feature, and thanks to their hacks, the car's brake pedal ceased to work entirely. "We want to convince you that we can hurt you without hurting you," says Miller. Their display is convincing -- not to mention frightening in its implications.

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