Want Free Self Driving In Your Tesla? Researchers Found a Hack


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A group of researchers has discovered a technique to jailbreak a Tesla’s infotainment system, unlocking Full Self-Driving, heated seats, and other paid features for the low price of zero dollars.

According to a report in TechCrunch, three students from Technische Universität Berlin and an independent researcher used a method called voltage glitching for a digital-age hot wire by messing with the power supply of the infotainment system’s AMD processor. The hack will be presented at next week’s Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

“If we do it at the right moment, we can trick the CPU into doing something else,” said Christian Werling, one of the students, in an interview with TechCrunch. “It has a hiccup, skips an instruction, and accepts our manipulated code. That’s basically what we do in a nutshell.”

The attack doesn’t just unlock the $300 heated seat features. (Also, can you believe you need to pay $300 for something that’s already built into your car?) The researchers said they were able to unlock the encryption key that authenticates the car on Tesla’s network, which could pave the way for unlocking even more features, such as enabling things like Full Self-Driving even in regions where the technology is prohibited.

Not only that, the researchers said they could access personal information such as contacts, calendar appointments, the car’s recent GPS locations, and more.

Fortunately, you need physical access to the car to perform the voltage glitching technique (not to mention technical knowledge), but the research could lay a path for bad guys who have a way to get into Teslas they don’t own.

The researchers say Tesla would probably have to replace hardware in the car in order to prevent this kind of hack. Tesla, which generally ignores emails from the media as a matter of policy, did not respond to a request for comment.


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