Uber hires Jeep hackers to boost security

Uber Technologies said yesterday it had hired two top vehicle security researchers, in a bid to ramp its work on technology for self-driving cars.

Charlie Miller, who had been working at Twitter Inc, and Chris Valasek, who worked at security firm IOActive, had quit their jobs to join Uber next week.

The duo were the centre of attention earlier this month after demonstrating they could hack into a moving Jeep (See: Security researchers hijack cars remotely).

According to Uber, Miller and Valasek would join the company's Advanced Technologies Centre, a research laboratory Uber opened in Pittsburgh in February.

The company had hired away dozens of autonomous vehicle experts from Carnegie Mellon University.

According to an Uber spokeswoman, Miller and Valasek would work with the company's top security officers "to continue building out a world-class safety and security program at Uber."

Raffi Krikorian, who headed the company's Advanced Technologies Centre, tweeted a welcome to the duo yesterday.

Miller tweeted that he was looking forward to starting his new job on Tuesday, while Valasek tweeted that Monday would be his last day at IOActive.

According to commentators, as Uber focused more intensely on developing or adapting self-driving cars, Miller and Valasek could help the company make that technology more secure.

According to the company's statement, Uber the two would work closely with Joe Sullivan, Uber's chief security officer, and John Flynn, the chief information security officer, to ''continue building out a world-class safety and security program at Uber.''

The hirings were earlier reported by Reuters, and come as the latest talent grab by the ride-hailing start-up, which was valued at over $50 billion by investors and has raised over $6 billion in private capital.

Uber this year, hired Sullivan, a respected information security engineer, away from Facebook.

The company had also systematically lured away talent from  different divisions of Google, such as its mapping and geo units, poaching over a 100 engineers.

San Francisco-based Uber had made security a top focus this year after a breach of its computer systems in February.