Did Chinese hackers just crack Telsa’s on-board security?

$10,000 prize offered for the first team to break through Model S firewalls

Tesla reckons its security is solid. Chinese team says otherwise

Tesla reckons its security is solid. Chinese team says otherwise


Chinese “hackers” claim they have been able to access and alter the on-board systems of a Tesla Model S saloon while it was moving.

The claim by internet security company Qihoo 360 Technology was made as part of the SyScan +360 technology conference in Beijing, which offered a prize of $10,000 to anyone who could verifiably compromise the security systems of a Model S.

Issues surrounding Tesla’s security were raised earlier this year by online security expert Nitesh Dhanjani, who claimed to be able to work around the firewalls of Tesla’s website, giving him unauthorised access to his own Model S.

Because Tesla designed the Model S to be accessible to owners from computers and smartphones (as with most electric cars, it’s so you can monitor battery strength and set up the climate control and other functions remotely) there have been constant worries that unscrupulous operators could gain access to the car’s higher functions by elbowing open the remote access door.

Qihoo 360 Technology Co now says it was able to operate the door locks, horn, headlights and sunroof while the car was moving. While that list doesn’t encompass the drivetrain, steering or brakes, locks and headlights could be a potentially serious security risk.

“While Tesla is not associated with the conference and is not a sponsor of the competition, we support the idea of providing an environment in which responsible security researchers can help identify potential vulnerabilities. We hope the security researchers will act responsibly and in good faith,” a Tesla spokesperson said.