Tesla Motors chief technology officer JB Straubel has announced that the pioneering electric car company will raise its hacking bounty to $10,000, as part of efforts to ensure that vehicles are devoid of any security glitches or flaws.
JB Straubel made a surprise appearance at hacking event DEF CON to thank the team of researchers who managed to uncover a set of vulnerabilities that enabled them to gain
root partial access to the Tesla S computer system.
These holes could have had adverse safety implications had they been uncovered by malignant parties, giving hackers the ability to control locking systems remotely and switch on emergency brakes while travelling at speeds of less than 5 miles per hour.
Hackers could also tamper with data displayed on the driver instrument panel and manipulate the in-vehicle entertainment system.
Straubel presented Kevin Mahaffey, CTO of mobile security firm Lookout, and Marc Roger, principal security researcher for Cloudfare, with Tesla “Challenge Coins” for their achievements. The coins are tokens of gratitude that Tesla awards to any hackers capable of sniffing out any significant security defects in its vehicles.
As part of the hacking event’s festivities, Straubel was obliged by long-standing protocols to down a traditional shot of spirits while conferring the awards.
Straubel also announced that Tesla would increase the potential payouts 10-fold for uncovering security flaws, in order to raise the effectiveness of its bug bounty program, which the company launched in June.
The maximum payout of $1,000 for detection of a major flaw would be increased to $10,000, to be delivered for the discovery of command injection flaws or vertical privilege escalations.
Tesla made itself a prominent presence at the Las Vegas hacking congregation, putting one of its Model S vehicles on display. The company hopes to obtain the assistance of professional hackers and IT security experts in shoring up the security of its computing systems.
Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company is a pioneer in this area, emerging as the first and only auto manufacturer to implement its own bug bounty program, in emulation of tech giants such as Google and Microsoft.