I remember reading about a vehicle made in Europe that was completely drive-by-wire with no mechanical linkages whatsoever. Of course, some vehicles had glitches, and when they did, there was nothing to do but hope the wreck didn't kill you.
You know how many criminal organizations would love to be able to use an assist motor to jam a steering wheel at will? With how interconnected vehicles are, it might just take a bluetooth hole to get on the CANBus, then go from there.
I wouldn't blame Ford specifically, but I do worry about things like GM's OnStar being a prime target for hackers. Get control of that, disable all GM cars, tout the accomplishment, and win immense street cred. Same with getting motor-assisted steering to start jerking the wheel at random to cause crashes, it would put an organization on the map and give them respect worldwide.
Car makers have been good, but in general, most companies feel that security has no ROI, so don't do much than lip service, and coupled with all the crap that can take over a vehicle's ECM , it can be concerning.
: I was reading about a "tattle" device by one insurance company which apparently something over the OBD 2 connector, so if the device was removed, the vehicle wouldn't start. Is this real? Doubtful, but it is concerning.
Even without steer by wire, this can be accomplished with electric power steering. As an example, look at "Active Park Assist". The system will command the steering wheel to turn, pretty much to full lock, based on what the sensors see. I assume (maybe?) if it detects resistance on the steering wheel it won't over power it, but the technology is already there for the wheels to turn as the computer sees fit. Electronic Throttle Control means the gas pedal is really just a suggestion to the computer, and hybrids with regenerative braking, the brakes are (somewhat?) brake by wire.
Plus with push button start, to kill power for have to hold the power button for several seconds if you need an emergency shut down due to a malfunction. Cars are also moving to electronic parking brakes too.