China contest hacks Tesla Model S, finds vulnerabilities

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 17, 2014

Tesla Motors will probe and rectify any vulnerability discovered during a hacking contest in China that targeted its Model S sedan. Qihoo 360 Technology Co. has discovered methods to remotely control the car’s locks, horn, headlights and skylight while it is in motion, the Internet security firm said in a posting on its Sina Weibo account.

Wu Jing, a director of investor relations for Qihoo 360, disclosed that its information technology department conducted the experiment. Tesla said in an e-mail that it is not associated with SyScan +360 conference and is not a sponsor of the contest, it supports the “idea of providing an environment in which responsible security researchers can help identify potential vulnerabilities.”

It added that it hopes that the security researchers will act “responsibly and in good faith.” Tesla said it will investigate the matter and take immediate action to rectify any “legitimate vulnerability” identified during the competition.

The carmaker has requested security researchers to report possible vulnerabilities in accordance with its policy. It also requested them not to hack its Web site, servers and networks.

The SyScan +360 conference will pay $10,000 to anyone who could hack into the Model S. In June, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk disclosed that the EV maker’s patents will be “open source” and available for free in order to hasten adoption of electric vehicles.

Tesla started deliveries of the Model S in China in April, with Musk saying that sales in the country may tally with the figure in the United States as early as next year.

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