Posted on June 01, 2019 by Matt Pressman
Connected cars require increased vigilance to ensure their safety. While some of today's cars have documented vulnerabilities (e.g. the infamous hacked Jeep), Tesla has been steadfast in its efforts to defend against car hacking efforts. The Silicon Valley automaker even works with "white hat" hackers to proactively identify and fix security flaws. And, Tesla's robust efforts often involve substantial rewards.
Image: IOT Security Foundation
Tesla keeps close tabs on these potential vulnerabilities and regularly updates its software to protect the vehicle. To that end, Tesla leads the way among car companies offering these over-the-air software updates. It's as simple as updating the operating system on your phone. Furthermore, you don't have to visit a third-party franchise dealership in order to pay (sometimes substantial) fees to have someone else update your own vehicle's software.
David Kennedy, a white hat hacker and cybersecurity consultant, owns a Tesla and tells Yahoo Finance that all cars in the future will "require software and firmware updates from the manufacturer. The most practical way to manage this is with over-the-air (OTA) software updates... Tesla is a good example of what this will be like. It already has functional OTA updates for its vehicles and continuously releases new software updates."
“The actual ability to get into a Tesla would be somewhat difficult, as you’d have to hack your way in,” says Matt DeLorenzo, Senior Managing Editor for Kelley Blue Book. That said, Tesla owners should still follow some common sense tips in order to keep their vehicle safe from unsavory characters in the "black hat" hacking community.
These hackers could, theoretically, compromise a vehicle's cybersecurity by tempting users to download malicious apps. In one test scenario, a hacker created an app that tricked the user into thinking they were downloading a coupon for a free burger. When a Tesla driver downloaded the app, malware exposed their username and password next time they logged into the Tesla app. The hacker then tracked the car, got in it, and drove away. While this wasn’t a real-life theft, it showcased how a hacker could, potentially, try to gain control of a vehicle.
Want more info on how to beef up your own vehicle’s cybersecurity? Check out this animated infographic from Esurance.