ELON MUSK'S Tesla self-driving car outfit has released a software update after hackers took control of one of the company's cars from a dozen miles away.
The Tesla car was hacked by a Chinese group called Keen Security Lab, which posted a video of the exploit on YouTube (below) showing that the remote attack works against unmodified cars with what was at the time untouched firmware.
The group took the responsible disclosure line here, and posted its reasoning underneath the video.
"With several months of in-depth research on Tesla cars we have discovered multiple security vulnerabilities and successfully implemented remote, [i.e.] non-physical, control on Tesla Model S in both Parking and Driving Mode. It is worth to note that we used an unmodified car with latest firmware to demonstrate the attack," the hackers wrote.
"Following the global industry practice on 'responsible disclosure' of product security vulnerabilities, we have reported the technical details of all the vulnerabilities discovered in the research to Tesla. The vulnerabilities have been confirmed by Tesla Product Security Team."
The Keen group added that it is working with Tesla on the problem and that drivers of Tesla vehicles should update to the latest firmware.
John Madelin, CEO at cyber security firm RelianceACSN, said that a quick response is the least Tesla customers should expect, and offered the firm a boots and braces approach to stopping the hacks.
"A Tesla car is the most sophisticated computer on wheels. There's a large community of Tesla fanatics constantly working on reverse engineering its inner set-up, so it was just a matter of time before vulnerabilities were discovered and exploited," he said.
"While Tesla's hefty price [for cars] means that there will be few of them on the road, the company still needs to make some big decisions with regards to security.
"Road users' safety is paramount, so the company needs to be clear on how it responds to emergency security patching and deliver it quickly to its vehicles. Tesla also needs to think about embracing a ‘zero tolerance' policy so that the engines cannot start unless the latest software is running.
"Finally, the company needs to consider implementing a ‘kill switch' to remotely ground its cars if an emergency is found with the software."
Tesla needs to pay attention to these suggestions, as the company has already seen one driver die in a self-driving car. µ
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