Tesla software update fixes flaw found by Chinese white-hat hackers


2016 Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Modern cars' increased reliance on software to control vital functions opens up new technological possibilities, but also poses the potential of hacking.

That risk now requires automakers to think like tech companies, and keep to updating software to close weak points that could allow hackers to access vehicle systems.

Electric-car maker Tesla Motors is the latest carmaker to face such a vulnerability.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Model S Hacked In Low-Speed Driving; Patch Issued, Details Tomorrow: UPDATED (Aug 2015)

The company released a software update to fix a vulnerability highlighted this week by Chinese white-hat hackers, reports Bloomberg.

Keen Security Lab infiltrated the control system of a Tesla Model S, taking over certain systems remotely.

In a video and blog post, Keen Security Lab researchers demonstrated the ability to remotely tap into the Tesla's controller area network (CAN) bus, which controls onboard systems.

2016 Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

This allowed them to do things like open the sunroof, move the seats, and unlock the doors from outside the car.

Researchers noted that they tested the hack on multiple versions of the Model S, and said it is "reasonable to assume that other Tesla models are affected," presumably referring to the Model X.

As it does with other software, Tesla released the security fix as an over-the-air update, allowing it to respond more quickly than other automakers faced with security vulnerabilities in the past.

MORE: Tesla CTO Hikes Hacking Bounty To $10K (And Does A Shot) (Aug 2015)

Tesla said it deployed the software update within 10 days of receiving the report.

The automatic nature of Tesla's over-the-air updates also helps ensure that all cars get updated, as owners don't have to take any action, such as going to a dealer or plugging a flash drive into their dashboards.

Keen Security Lab praised Tesla's "proactive attitude" in responding to its discovery of the vulnerability.

2016 Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Tesla will have to maintain that attitude as it develops more sophisticated software and tech features for its electric cars.

That includes systems that will allow Tesla cars to achieve full autonomy, as promised by CEO Elon Musk in his recently-updated "master plan" for the company.

Because as automakers continue to add these features, hackers will likely continue looking for ways to exploit them.

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