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During the annual Def Con event this past Saturday in Las Vegas, carmaker Tesla recruited hackers in the event in an effort to protect its vehicles from possible cyber-attacks. This news comes after the exposure of how vulnerable to hacking automobiles from Fiat Chrysler and GM are, and its lack of cybersecurity knowhow.
“Hackers are a crowd that is really important to us,” Tesla communication managerKhobi Brooklyn said. “It is a community that we want to be a part of, and collaborates with, as well as recruit from.” Brooklyn attended the event along with the company’s security team. Most of the carmakers automobiles are computerised and may be susceptible to cyber-attacks. According to Brooklyn, the company has collaborated with Lookout Mobile Security to detect any software vulnerabilities as well as finding appropriate software solutions for them. Recruiting hackers may just be another step forward in making sure that the company’s cars are secure from any cyber-attack.
Car hacking has been a top issue in recent weeks ever since Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million US cars and trucks last month when hackers exposed that they can remotely control them whilst being driven. Earlier this month, a hacker named Samy Kamkar also demonstrated that he could hack into a Chevrolet Volt, giving him control over the onboard OnStar service. He made contact with the carmaker, and GM quickly implemented a fix for the issue.
During the Def Con event, security researchers Kevin Mahaffey and Marc Rogers presented a demonstration on how to hack into a Tesla Model S sedan. It required them to tear apart the vehicle’s dashboard and connect their computers to an exposed Ethernet port. The demonstration showed that it was difficult to hack into the company’s vehicles, but still noted that it is still vulnerable nonetheless. The two researchers also said however that the Model S was the most secure care they’ve ever seen. The carmaker quickly provided a patch to remove the vulnerability.
Tesla is looking to cover all bases in its cyber-security branch by not only recruiting hackers, but also started a bug bounty programme. The programme will reward independent hackers and security researchers between US$25 and US$10,000 that would be able to report any vulnerability to the company.