The Big Question
Was this a "tethered" hack or can it be done wirelessly? It if requires a physical connection then it's not particularly scary...
Zhejiang University students have hacked the Tesla Model S with an attack that enabled them to open its doors and sun roof, switch on the headlights and sound the horn - all while the car was driving along. The hack was part of a competition at the annual Syscan conference in Beijing, where a prize of $US10,000 was offered to …
have hacked the six digit code of the remote control app, which means the software flaw is in an insecure software application and not the vehicle itself. And thus the Tesla Model S itself was not hacked. I guess the headline "Chinese Uni students hack smart phone app" isn't really click bait.
The smartphone stuff is not supposed to work while the car is in motion, so even if that was the vector they have done more.
Car electronic security is poor to abysmal in general, it doesn't matter much while the only vector is the plug-in point, but manufacturers have been adding wireless functions and links to to Internet...
"Car electronic security is poor to abysmal in general"
Very true, which means
1) It's not surprising that teh Tesla was not 'uncrackable', though without any further details it's not possible to understand how serious any issues are
2) It's great that Tesla are following attentively and taking feedback on board rather than the usual "no comment" or "our car is unhackable under normal conditions" BS that I've heard from BMW etc
@jubtastic... As far as I can tell from other reports (not this one, the story was incredibly short on facts, guy must work for The Sun) the hack didn't open the doors. It unlocked the doors.
On most cars unlocking the door and opening the doors are two separate actions.
Still a good hack but it doesn't mean you could fall out the car whilst it was in motion.
The Austin Metro (at least earlier models) could be unlocked by unplugging a connector under a front wing and shorting a couple of the pins.
This article is very badly written. What is "flow design"? What is meant by "pop the doors and engine"? And is this something a thief can do by plugging something in while it is parked (like the Metro above) or is it the perp using a radio link to make the doors fly open or the engine cut or explode ("pop"?) while a Tesla is driving past, as a prank?
"... alter the car functions while it was in motion ". Does this mean by a third party radio link (as above) or by the owner with a plug-in to do things normally disabled in motion - perhaps you can't usually open the sunroof in motion?
No use looking at the link, it's in Chinese.
"The Austin Metro (at least earlier models) could be unlocked by unplugging a connector under a front wing and shorting a couple of the pins.!"
The Austin metro could be unlocked with a front door key. I know, I did it when a friend locked his inside. They were no worse than others, many people from the 80's may recall that wierd feeing when you realise you have sat in the wrong car (Vauxhall Cavalier was mine)
I once managed to lock the keys in my TR7 at a petrol station, I asked the bloke filling his van next to me if I could try his keys, he passed them to me with a 'you'll be lucky mate' look, I didn't need luck, I just needed something vaguely key shaped.
Still locked it every time I parked though.
Pshaw! I unlocked many a locked Vauxhall and Toyota for distressed ladies with consummate ease in the 79-81 era using ... the otherwise useless fish descaler on my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife.
Slide it in, bit of a wiggle as you pull it out a bit and repeat until job done.
And the ladies were always left smiling.
" ... many people from the 80's may recall that wierd feeing when you realise you have sat in the wrong car (Vauxhall Cavalier was mine)"
Yep - Vauxhall Chevette and Ford Fiesta here! There is no elegant way of extracting yourself from that:
"Why won't the ignition switch work?" [usually less worn than door-lock] (Rock steering wheel back and forth a few times. Peer under column.)
"Shit! Lock must be broken!" (Reach for door handle to get out.)
"Hold on. Where have those furry dice/womens' shoes/deodorant trees come from?" (Odd sense of reality fading. Vague suspicions of alternative universes become more concrete.)
"Eerrrmm - I don't remember parking this close to that wall/lamp-post/identical model of car with familiar number plate ..." (Sudden bowel-loosening realisation that you are, in actual fact, in *someone else's car*. Intimate appreciation of the meaning of the phrase "Feeling the colour draining out your face").
"Right. Don't panic. No-one knows what you've done. Pretend you have found *the thing* you were looking for. *Calmly* get out of the car." (Heart pounding loud enough to set the suspension resonating. Cold sweat forming all over.)
"Now, relock the door." (Shit! It isn't as easy.)
"No - on the button!" (Reopen door in as unsuspicious way as possible, do the combination of handle and button.)
"Now, walk back the way you came so that it is obvious you 'just wanted to get something from the car'." (Resist temptation to whistle whilst walking round corner. Wait what seems like five minutes, not looking suspicious at all.)
"Take off your jacket/jumper so no-one will recognise you as you walk back to your own car and drive off ... very ... carefully." (Try to forget the utter hideousness of it all until some bastard on El Reg reminds you of it ...)
That I can read ElReg doesn't mean I can't read Chinese, all be it very slowly.
BTW the link leads to the video http://weibo.com/u/3957583411#_loginLayer_1405984877559 which suggests the hacker is using a mobile phone. The car is NOT moving.
May be there is just a little green man inside, you never know these days.
Zhejiang University students have hacked the Tesla Model S with an attack that enabled them to open its doors and sun roof, switch on the headlights and sound the horn.
Well, I'd be pretty miffed if I couldn't open the doors (ok, perhaps not doors whilst in motion), sunroof and operate lights and horn. Having to pull over to open/close sunroof or turn on/off lights would be rather annoying.
And horn not working whilst moving kind of defeats its purpose (which is not to lean on it in stationary traffic whilst car ahead has nowhere to go anyway).
[sarcasm mode on]
Please, yes please. I'd love to make the car IN FRONT OF ME to play the horn whenever I get close to him. People around here sleep on the green lights way too much.
Just get really close, and watch a schmuck wake up to move along with the traffic. While you don't even have to play the horn yourself.
Given I always stop at less than 75cm from the car in front of me... that should be enough incentive to move with freaking traffic.
"Billionaire Tesla head Elon Musk announced last month its patents would be 'open source' to promote the adoption of electric cars. "
Seriously? A display of unselfish common sense from someone with huge amounts of money and power? The sky must be about fall on our heads !
He didn't say free (as in beer) and most patents can be forced to be licensed under FRAND (Fair reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing) terms anyway.
Telsa's patents on the electric car are much weaker than those of Toyota, Honda, Ford etc, and are mostly design patents on the shape of bits. So he was merely claiming the moral high ground for a future patent war, before an inevitable govt imposed standardization of things like charging ports.
"Luckily I don't have to worry about thieves - my car's not worth nicking."
My friend would have said that about her plain old banger - one of the Eastern Bloc models. Didn't stop someone nicking it from the station car park one evening. Found next day in a field - burned out. She claimed on her insurance - but the insurance company then loaded her next premium so high that she would have been better off not claiming.
I used to think that until my 18 year old Fiesta with rotten front and back wings, interior that was falling to bits and a 15 pound stereo (I was a student at the time, any car was amazing) was stolen. The police said it was probably nicked by teenagers who couldn't be bothered to catch a bus.
I got it back (a phone call from the police at 3am saying they had found it but could not secure it) but they stole the 15 pound stereo, and even the Tesco uniform in the boot. Since then I assume they'll steal anything... (Seriously, why would you steal a 15 pound stereo or Tesco uniform - especially the later?!?!?!?!)
This sounds more serious than it really is. Here's why:
1. The Tesla owner's smartphone or the owner's sign-in credentials would have to be in the possession of the hacker.
2. The smartphone itself would have to be unlocked.
This poses no greater danger than one's unlocked smartphone being lost. None of the app control features are critical to driving the car. Additionally, the Tesla owner can instantly deactivate external control via a button on the car's touch screen.
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