Electric car manufacturer Tesla is in the news for a second time in a week after hackers-for-hire revealed that the company’s luxury Model S sedans could be hijacked with a network cable and a laptop.
According to a story this past week from Wired, Kevin Mahaffey, a security specialist from Lookout, and Marc Rogers, a security researcher at CloudFlare, were contracted to research the car’s software framework and point out vulnerabilities.
The duo also discovered they could plant a Trojan virus in the car’s network, a hack that would allow them to cut the car’s engine during operation. Both hacks require physical access to the car.
While the idea that a car can be hacked is a disturbing thought, Tesla assured its car owners that several of the vulnerabilities their researchers discovered have been fixed. Also working to the car company’s advantage is the built-in separation between the car’s infotainment system and the system which controls driving.
Earlier this year Chrysler came under fire when it was discovered that the company’s Jeeps had no such separation, meaning a hacker could access the driving controls by hacking into the car’s infotainment system.
The two researchers praised Tesla for building their software systems with excellence and praised them for playing a part in how the “broader car industry could better secure vehicles.
The researchers’ primary goal in examining the Model S was to determine what Tesla did right or wrong with the car in order to figure out how the broader car industry could better secure vehicles.
CNN Money explained that the hackers loaded up the car’s system with malware, then took it to an empty parking lot in Los Angeles and gave it commands via an iPhone.
The hackers were able to “unlock the car’s doors,” open up the trunk and cut power to the inside of the car.