Update Nov. 24: According to Spiegel, Tesla fixed this bug with its recent 2020.48 software update from two weeks ago, while also awarded the researchers a $5,000 bug bounty. Our original story is as follows.
A number of bugs and design flaws have been unveiled with regards to Tesla’s cars, though likely none as compromising as this one, discovered by a team of researchers in Belgium.
While the news is less-than-ideal for Tesla, Professor Bart Preneel, who led the investigation responsible, said that Tesla responded far better than other companies when asked what their reaction was like.
Belgian researchers hack @Tesla Model X key fob, their reaction: over the air update and done
Same Belgian researchers hack other car brand's keys, reaction: that's not allowed, let's start up judicial processes!
Even though I don't own one, my love for Tesla grew even more
— CharPaca (@CharPaca) November 23, 2020
Preneel told reporters that Tesla’s reaction was “Fairly cool.” He continued, “But unlike other car manufacturers. Earlier this year we hacked millions of keys from other car brands. They found that was impossible and threatened with expensive processes. Tesla reacts completely differently. It sees itself as a computer company and rewards people who succeed in using its system to hack.”
While the bug certainly left a security flaw in Tesla’s system temporarily, it will be fixed by Tesla with an over-the-air software update. Tesla’s tech company prowess again shines above its image as an electric vehicle company in this case. It’d be interesting to see legacy and traditional automakers react this quickly.
According to Wired, “Wouters says he warned Tesla about his Model X keyless entry hacking technique in August. He says the company has told him it plans to start rolling out a software update to its key fobs this week—and possibly components of its cars too—to prevent at least one step in his two-part attack.”
Still, the potential for someone to use the hack is out there – and it could easily cause lots of stolen Teslas in the wrong hands.
Zachary Visconti is a news writer covering Tesla and other EV companies, as well as stories about electric battery news, autonomous driving, and all things sustainable technology. Currently residing in Santa Rosa, California. Loves his wife, his cat Banks, and a good cup of coffee.