Tesla has issued a software update after Keen Security Labs, a Chinese security company, were able to hack in and access several functions of a Model S, including deploying the brakes
Jimi Beckwith
20 September 2016

Tesla has responded to a Chinese security company’s successful hacking of a Model S, which allowed them to access various functions of the vehicle.

The hackers, from a Chinese security company called Keen Security Labs, alerted Tesla to the cars’ vulnerability to hacking after its employees gained access to a car’s interior functions. These included seat position and window opening mechanisms, taking over the car’s dials and infotainment screen, and unlocking the doors.

The hackers were also able to fold the car’s wingmirrors, activate the windscreen wipers and apply the brakes while the car was in motion.

Tesla has issued a software update to protect its cars from the vulnerability, in addition to the following statement: “Within just 10 days of receiving this report, Tesla has already deployed an over-the-air software update (v7.1, 2.36.31) that addresses the potential security issues.

"The issue demonstrated is only triggered when the web browser is used, and also required the car to be physically near to and connected to a malicious wi-fi hotspot. Our realistic estimate is that the risk to our customers was very low, but this did not stop us from responding quickly."

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"We engage with the security research community to test the security of our products so that we can fix potential vulnerabilities before they result in issues for our customers. We commend the research team behind today’s demonstration and plan to reward them under our bug bounty program, which was set up to encourage this type of research.”

The study comes as debate grows around the security of connected cars and autonomous vehicles, with critics fearful that if security measures aren’t fully in place before the cars are on the road, drivers will be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Read more:

Car hacking: manufacturers must improve security following Jeep hack

Car hacking: how cyber security is stepping up

Autonomous cars to have ‘thousands of security risks’

New simulator to combat threat of autonomous car hacking

Matt Prior's tester's notes - are we at risk from car hacking?

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Our Verdict

Tesla Model S 95D

In theory, this all-electric luxury car looks a hit. So is it in practice?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week