Tesla offered hackers attending the SyScan conference in Beijing $10,000 earlier this month if they could hack and control its electric Model S sedan. A team of white hats — a term that refers to hackers exploring systems for educational or preventive purposes — from Zhejiang University was awarded 10,600 yuan, or about $1,700, for their efforts. They couldn’t claim the grand prize because although they got in, they didn’t interfere with the doors or motor in the timeframe specified.
Tesla (being the polar opposite of a tradtional car manufacturer) invited the hackers to try to breach its vehicle’s systems, hoping that any vulnerabilities could be corrected before any serious problems arise.
“We support the idea of providing an environment in which responsible security researchers can help identify potential vulnerabilities,” the company said on Wednesday.
Hackers found a “flow design flaw,” according to the South China Morning Post, which allowed hackers to unlock the car, sound the horn and flash the lights while it was in motion.
Security experts told the Post that because Tesla made its technology and patents public, they’re more vulnerable to a breach.
Last year, a team from the U.S. Department of Defense’s DARPA hacked a Toyota Prius and was able to hit the brakes and horn, and move the steering wheel while the car was in motion.
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