Tesla has been a player in cybersecurity and keeping its users safe lately. Most car conscious motor enthusiasts in the world trust the firm, and to top all of that, they have a bug bounty program of their own. However, all the trust and security measures put in place do not necessarily translate to them being free of any security problems.
Security researchers with the technology company from China, Tencent, recently discovered a number of flaws in the Tesla system, which if combined and used together would lead to them having total control of the Tesla Model S car. With the hack they could control the sunroof, the central display, the door locks, and more frightening, the braking system of the car.
The researchers discovered that they could get access to the controller area network of the car, which would give them control because it’s the one that lets the computers installed on the car communicate with each other.
Researchers who were based with the Tencent’s division of security, the Tencent’s Keen Security Lab, wrote in a blog post that as far as they were concerned, this was the first case of a remote attack which would go on to compromise the CAN Bus on the Tesla cars.
The group wrote that they managed to verify the attacks on various models of the Tesla S and their conclusion was that it was possible the other Tesla models had also been affected. In the blog post, the researchers also attached a video which shows what they are capable of doing thanks to the attack. They also managed to show that they could affect the car either when it’s parked or moving.
Whilst the car was parked, the researchers opened the car’s sunroof and activated the steering light. They also managed to change the driver’s seating position, unlock the car and take over the dashboard and the central display of the car. In their second demonstration, they managed to turn on the wipers as the car was moving.
The moving car demonstration was made in a private parking lot and at low speeds for safety purposes. They also managed to open the trunk and as the driver was ready to change lanes, the side view mirror was folded. However, the most dangerous thing they did was to engage the brakes from 12 miles away. Such actions, when done at high speeds, would likely lead to collisions.
Thanks to the bug bounty program, the researchers submitted the flaws and the company has been working on patches ever since. Thankfully, Tesla cars are able to receive firmware updates remotely, therefore Tesla car owners have to make sure they are running the latest car software.
When asked for comment, Tesla declined.