• Uber traces data hack perpetrator back to rival Lyft CTO Chris Lambert.

Uber traces data hack perpetrator back to rival Lyft CTO Chris Lambert. (Photo : Reuters)

Uber Technologies is joining the mad rush for self-driving cars by making its own version. However, to ensure that the vehicles it would build are hack-proof, the ride-hailing firm disclosed on Friday that it hiredtwo famous car hackers who would device defense systems for the upcoming vehicle.

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The Wall Street Journal identified the two who would work in Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh as security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. The two wirelessly hacked into the entertainment system of a Jeep Cherokee that they purchased. They stopped the jeep while it was running on a highway in St. Louis.

At the Black Hat and Def Con hacking conferences in August, the pair showed how to remotely control thousands of vehicles which they could track by its location and speed. They could also remotely manipulate the blinkers, lights, windshield wipers, radios and navigation system. In some cases, Miller and Valasek were even able to manipulate the vehicle's brakes and steering, reports The New York Times.

While the public stunt angered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which manufactures Jeep Cherokee, other carmakers instead tapped the knowledge of hackers to prevent hacking into their system. Tesla opted to work with two hackers who successfully entered the systems of its Model S sedans. The electric vehicle-maker presented the work of their hackers at a hacker conference in July.

The Uber center in San Francisco is where robotic experts from Carnegie Mellon University work on maps and automation technology.

Security has become a major concern of Uber after a breach in February almost exposed about 50,000 names and driver's license identification numbers of the company. According to security experts, only one remote hacking of an Uber car - which has computers connected to the internet - could be disastrous for the ride-hailing firm.