After Jeep Hack, Miller and Valasek Move to Uber

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have left their respective employers to join Uber's advanced research team, the company acknowledged on Friday.
Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have left their respective employers to join Uber’s advanced research team, the company acknowledged on Friday.

In-brief: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, the two researchers who developed a wireless software attack on Fiat Chrysler vehicles, will leave their respective employers to join Uber’s advanced technologies research group, the two announced this week.

Researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek will be teaming up at Uber, the company announced on Friday, ending speculation about the next step for the duo, who both announced they were parting ways with their current employers in recent days.

A company spokeswoman confirmed that the two will work at Uber “to continue building out a world-class safety and security program at Uber,” Reuters reported. The report was confirmed by the researchers, as well.

“Looking forward to starting Tuesday with the great team @Uber Advanced Technology Center. Should be a cool challenge and a lot of fun,” Miller (@0xcharlie) tweeted on Friday. Valasek confirmed to Security Ledger in an e-mail that he was joining the company with Miller. “It’s a package deal,” Valasek said.

See Chris Valasek at the Security of Things Forum in Cambridge, Mass on Sept. 10. Security Ledger readers get 20% off admission! Eventbrite - The Security of Things Forum

Miller announced his decision to leave Twitter early last week, followed shortly by Valasek who said that Monday would be his final day working for the security firm IOActive. Both will be working for Uber’s Pittsburgh-based Advanced Technologies Center, a research and development office that company established earlier this year and staffed with dozens of robotics and autonomous vehicle experts poached from nearby Carnegie Mellon University shortly announcing a partnership with the University.

Valasek and Miller are among the world’s most recognized experts on the security of connected vehicles. In July, the two unveiled research on wireless attacks on late model vehicles manufactured by Fiat Chrysler. In a demonstration for Wired reporter Andy Greenberg, the two demonstrated wireless, software based attacks that could affect the vehicles steering, brakes and other critical functions. The formally presented that research at the Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas in August.Fiat Chrysler subsequently recalled 1.4 million vehicles to address the security issues revealed by Miller and Valasek – the first time a software based security vulnerability prompted such an action by a major car maker.

Uber, flush with investor money, is spending heavily on engineering talent in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous driving and security. In addition to Carnegie Mellon, the company forged an alliance with the University of Arizona focused on autonomous driving.

Valasek declined to comment on what kinds of research he will be doing and Miller has been circumspect, as well. However, given Uber’s focus on leveraging data from its drivers and their vehicles, and the company’s stated interests  in autonomous vehicles, speculation has focused on areas such as securing remote management and control systems for a future Uber’s “fleet” of self-driving cabs.

Valasek will be a keynote speaker at The Security of Things Forum in Cambridge, Mass on Sept. 10, jointly hosted by The Security Ledger and Christian Science Monitor Passcode. Security Ledger readers can get a 20% discount on admission to the event. Just use this link to register.