What Happens When Someone Hacks My Tesla?

Search Encrypt/ November 27, 2017/ Tech/ 0 comments

Digital security is important, no doubt. If a data breach leaks your personal data, someone could use that information to harm your reputation. And worst case scenario, they could use the information to steal your identity and money. Say someone gets a driver’s license in your name and gets speeding tickets, you will be responsible for paying the ticket. The results of identity theft, while extremely inconvenient, can be fought and fixed. As our identities become increasingly digital, our risks of being effected by a data breach grow exponentially.

Internet of (every)Things

Imagine that a hacker gains access to your car, which is connected to the internet. If you are driving the car, you then lose control of the vehicle. A group of Chinese hackers, from the Keen Security Lab in Shanghai, has hacked a Tesla on two occasions. They were able to turn on the brakes remotely, and then get the doors and trunk to open and close while the lights blinked with the music streamed from the car’s radio. While no Tesla owners have been affected by a hack, the Chinese hackers reveal that it is possible.

Sen Nie, lead researcher for the car hacking team at Keen Security Lab said that the work was very complex and would be difficult to replicate. He added that researchers don’t think Teslas are any more vulnerable than other types of cars.

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More IoT Means More Security Concerns

We’ve criticized the Internet of Things before, for its security and reliability. IoT is still incredibly young. However, the connectivity of every automobile on the road, is becoming more and more realistic. The stakes are higher than ever for perfect security, in this enormous network of devices.

The internet of things is no longer limited to smart-homes and personal assistants. Companies like Tesla are quickly pushing the envelope on what IoT can do, and how we use it. Back in 2014, Tesla performed its first “over the air” fix on its cars. Teslas had an issue with a charger plug causing fires. Rather than recall the part and require owners to bring their cars to the dealership, it simply pushed a software update to all the vehicles. This could extend product life-cycles across the board.

While this change in how companies repair their products is huge. It is yet another way that security in the internet of things becomes more important. Our reliance on IoT to work, and to work securely, means security breaches have more serious consequences. If your Google Home stops working, you can just do a search on your iPhone…If someone hacks your Tesla, you could be physically injured in a car accident.

Privacy Matters

You may think that your internet browsing behavior data is trivial, compared with other information about yourself. Consider though, the data that Tesla is acquiring. It is tracking how you use and interact with your car. It tracks whether or not you are wearing your seat belt, or how hard you brake and how fast you drive.

This excerpt from Tesla’s privacy policy explains what the company tracks:

To improve our vehicles and services for you, we collect certain telematics data regarding the performance, usage, operation, and condition of your Tesla vehicle, including the following: vehicle identification number, speed information, odometer readings, battery use management information, battery charging history, electrical system functions, software version information, infotainment system data, safety‐related data (including information regarding the vehicle’s SRS systems, brakes, security, e‐brake), and other data to assist in identifying and analyzing the performance of the vehicle. We may collect such information either in person (e.g., during a service appointment) or via remote access.

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The video clips Tesla uses to improve its autonomous technology.

Automotive trade groups have developed privacy standards to try to protect user data. However, Tesla isn’t a member of either the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers or the Association of Global Automakers. In June 2017, Tesla released an update, Autopilot 2.0. It also asked owners for the authorization to collect videos from the Autopilot cameras. Tesla claims it doesn’t link the videos to your vehicle identification number.

The company adds, “in order to protect your privacy, we have ensured that there is no way to search our system for clips that are associated with a specific car.” This may calm some nerves. Others are still worried about how that data could be used against them later, if it doesn’t maintain perfect forward secrecy.

Privacy Still An Option

In Tesla’s case, users can opt out of sharing the video with the company. However, opting out of sharing other information, like your car’s location, means giving up other features. The best way to make sure you keep your data private, is to look into how companies and services you use are using your data. Then you can opt-out of sharing if possible, or switch to a more private product. You can use these 8 Ways to Protect Your Digital Privacy, among other efforts to protect yourself.

Encrypted, Protected & Private

If digital privacy is a priority for you, sticking to companies that track you isn’t helping. Google, Facebook and other companies continue to track you. Advertisers then use this information to target you specifically and continuously. The huge amount of data collection lets companies convince you to buy their product even if you don’t need it. So by using privacy-based products, you can actually save yourself money.

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