Consumer Group Remote Hacks Tesla Taking Over Screen

Tesla Hacked
TGR Staff

A group called Consumer Watchdog released a view today showing how they can hack into the wireless connection of a Tesla and take over the screen. While the hack only displayed a "This Tesla's Been Hacked" message, the group fears that hackers could use it as a way to introduce malware allowing access to the owner's personal information, or even more alarming, control over the vehicle's operating systems. 

The 2020 fleet is wired for remote start options that connect to safety-critical systems wirelessly and leave these cars vulnerable to fleet-wide hacks, the remote start capability is accessed through the same digital systems that control steering, acceleration, and braking, potentially giving hackers control over those as well. Automakers acknowledge to their shareholders that their designs are very vulnerable to malicious hacks at the same time as they promote their wireless start features to the public as a panacea. If Consumer Watchdog can hack a Tesla's wireless connection from outside the vehicle imagine what mischief a hostile foreign actor could do with exponentially more resources.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. 

Tesla Hacked by Consumer Watchdog

In a video demonstration, the group showed how the device they created could take over a Tesla parked on the street. The issue doesn't just affect Tesla, a brand known for over-the-air updates, according to Consumer Watchdog all of Car and Driver's top 10 best-selling cars of 2020 have vulnerabilities to outside hacking that the group believes could put consumers at risk.

Concern over the hacking of connected cars is nothing new, in fact in 2017 Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared his worry over the possibility of a "fleet-wide hack." Musk's concern was based on the fact that Tesla had experienced a fleet-wide hack at the hands of Tesla enthusiast Jason Hughes in 2017, who instead of exploring the hack himself, reported it to Tesla who quietly fixed it. 

Consumer Watchdog did not reach out to Tesla but instead wanted to show the public and government regulators that a breach is possible and it could have consequences for consumers and even national security. The non-profit group hopes their work will push manufacturers to correct errors that could put consumers at risk. According to the group, Tesla does not have a public relations liaison to answer questions about pubic safety, so instead they took to Twitter to bring their work to Elon's attention. So far no one from Telsa has responded to Consumer Watchdog or to several members of the press who have reached out for comment. 

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