Innovative car company Tesla has done a lot to protect their cars from hackers. Between hiring top-notch security engineers, adding plenty of software updates, and code integrity checks, no one would ever accuse Tesla of not taking precautions. But a team of academic hackers recently found that Tesla has left its Model S cars open to a different hacking method by cloning the car's key fob.
As reported by WIRED this past Monday, hackers explained a technique for getting about the wireless key fob's encryption of Tesla's Model S. By using radio and computing equipment, they could read signals wirelessly from another key fob. With about two seconds of computation to slow down the cryptographic key, a Model S could then be stolen right from under the owner.
The hacker revealed that they warned Tesla about this weakness back in August 2017. Tesla acknowledged their concerns, and thanked them with a $10,000 "bug bounty" for their troubles. Despite all that, the hackers claimed that Telsa didn't fix the issue until an encryption upgrade later in June, and a more recent addition to the PIN.
In response to this, Tesla revealed that such fixes were made as quickly as possible. They claimed that after they used some time to confirm what the hackers had discovered, investigate some sort of fix, and then integrate it into their already established manufacturing processes. Telsa went on to add that an owner can trace their respective vehicle on their phone, making it a lot easier to locate their stolen vehicle.
With this potentially catastrophic key-cloning method now out in the public for anyone to find out, those who own a vulnerable Model S need to turn on Tesla's newly added PIN feature. Owners can't and shouldn't plead ignorance to this development; they need to be well aware of this discovery by these hackers so that they can protect themselves from theft as soon as possible. After all, punching in a short PIN number on your key fob is just a small extra step that will keep you from having your expensive car stolen from out of nowhere.