Tesla Motors Inc has already been facing criticisms over security issues regarding Autopilot. And, recently it was thrown one more challenge to face after a group of Chinese white hat hackers found a way to hack a Tesla and hit its brake from a distance of 12 miles.
Model S prone to hacks from afar
A renowned security research team – named Keen Team – posted a video on YouTube, late Monday night, announcing the successful hack. Keen Team announced the hack on Twitter, saying they “pwned Tesla Model S remotely.”
Separately, in a blog post, the group said, “As far as we know, this is the first case of remote attack which compromises CAN Bus to achieve remote controls on Tesla cars. We have verified the attack vector on multiple varieties of Tesla Model S. It is reasonable to assume that other Tesla models are affected.”
In the video, the hackers can be seen controlling several features of the car, and that too without physically tampering the vehicle, apparently. The hackers demonstrated several activities such as opening the sunroof, moving the seat, folding rear view mirror, swinging windshield wipers and hitting the brakes of a car in motion that too from 12 miles away.
“We have verified the attack vector on multiple varieties of Tesla Model S. It is reasonable to assume that other Tesla models are affected,” researchers said.
Tesla was quick with a patch
A day after, Keen Team – the cyber security researchers with China’s Tencent Holdings – disclosed their findings, the automaker gave a statement to Reuters that it had patched the bugs. Tesla Motors Inc – in a statement – said it has already worked on the fix for the bugs that Keen exposed, and released an update within 10 days of receiving their alert.
In an email to Motherboard, a Tesla Motors Inc spokesperson said the issue takes place only when the web browser is put to use and the car is physically present and connected to a malicious WiFi hotspot. The EV firm said it responded quickly to the issue despite the fact that the risk to its customers was very low as per their realistic estimate. The EV firm made use of an over-the-air update to fix the bugs. This way the customers did not have to go through the trouble of visiting the stores for the required update.
Last year, two researchers uncovered bugs in the onboard software of Fiat Chrysler vehicles, resulting in a recall of 1.4 million U.S. vehicles. In a video posted on Wired, the researchers demonstrated that gaining remote control of a Jeep traveling at high speeds was possible for them.
Since then interest in car hacking has surged. Electric vehicles are kind of computers on wheels, and this has made it possible for the security researchers to find ways in which they can be hacked.