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Tesla Model S hacked by researchers to highlight security flaws

A team of cyber security researchers found a way to hack into a Tesla Model S and gain control of the car. They even managed to shut the motor off while it was moving at low speed, the Financial Times reports. 

This story comes just a few weeks after another team of hackers took over a Jeep Cherokee.

In the case of the Model S, Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer of Lookout, and Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at Cloudflare, decided to try to hack a Tesla because the company has a better reputation for understanding software than most competitors.

“We shut the car down when it was driving initially at a low speed of five miles per hour. All the screens go black, the music turns off and the handbrake comes on, lurching it to a stop,” said Rogers.  
The good news for Tesla and Model S owners is that built-in safety measures ensured the hackers could not put the parking brake on. What happened instead was the car dropped to neutral and the driver could still safely pull to the side of the road.

By the end of the week, using WiFi or a cellular connection, all Tesla customers will receive a patch to fix the flaws. Unlike the California-based electric car company, many automakers don’t have the ability to automatically send software updates to cars without drivers having to take the car to a dealership or mechanic, the newspaper points out.

With the emergence of connected cars, reports of hacking will no doubt increase in the next few years. At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas last year, leading experts even revealed which vehicles were the most vulnerable to hacker attacks, including the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and the 2015 Cadillac Escalade.