Just a few weeks after Chinese event organizers offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could successfully hack a Model S, a Chinese team from Zhejiang University has hacked the electric luxury sedan, reports the South China Monitoring Post. The team was able to remotely unlock the vehicle, change settings, sound the horn and flash the lights, and open the sunroof while the car was in motion. The vulnerabilities shown, imply that – given more time – unscrupulous users might possibly could maybe at some point gain access the interiors of parked Teslas, view their GPS trip history, check their contacts and/or check out whatever else you can check out from the central infotainment system.
Organizers say they have reported the vulnerability to Tesla. And Tesla, to its credit, seems to have welcomed news of its cars’ “flow design” vulnerability (that we reported on last year). “We support the idea of providing an environment in which responsible security researchers can help identify potential vulnerabilities,” the company said on Wednesday.
Interestingly, the Zhejiang University team won’t be collecting Musk’s $10,000 bounty, as the team had “not succeeded in the mission of hacking Tesla’s door and engine within the timeframe of the challenge.” Which, frankly, reads to me like sour PR grapes on Tesla’s part. Especially when I consider that I, for one, would be deeply concerned if I found out my car could be unlocked and turned on by a wireless laptop or mobile device.
John Pescatore, director for emerging security trends at the Sans Institute, told Fox News last week that Tesla, which recently announced plans to make all its technology and patents openly available, could be particularly vulnerable to hackers. “These new cars, especially hybrids, have a lot more software in them that has to be updated – these paths haven’t really been probed yet by hackers,” he said, before stating that Tesla’s currently “good” security reputation has come “mainly because no one has pounded on them, yet.”
Before you panic and start selling all your Tesla stock ahead of their gamble on battery futures coming up, however, keep in mind that this is Fox News we’re talking about, which makes Pescatore knowing his a** from a hole in the ground a 50/50 bet. Just, you know, keep an eye on your Tesla Model S when you upset the creepy bearded weirdo in the IT department.