Hack successfully targets Tesla Model S braking system (VIDEO)

© Keen Security Lab
Tesla Motors' Model S car can be remotely hacked and lose control of the vehicle's braking system, door locks, dashboard and central displays, and other, less-vital operations, researchers with Tencent's Keen Security Lab revealed.

The Model S vulnerabilities were displayed in a video by researchers with Chinese technology company Tencent. The attack targeted the car's controller area network (CAN) bus, which allows the vehicle's computer to communicate with one another.

Researchers said they were able to remotely hack into "an unmodified car with latest firmware."

"As far as we know, this is the first case of remote attack which compromises CAN Bus to achieve remote controls on Tesla cars," researchers with Tencent’s Keen Security Lab said Monday. "We have verified the attack vector on multiple varieties of Tesla Model S. It is reasonable to assume that other Tesla models are affected."

The video shows researchers using a laptop to open the car's sunroof, activate the steering light, move the driver's seat, unlock the car, and control the display systems of the dashboard and central console. 

In another demonstration, the researchers engaged the car's brakes from 12 miles away. They were also able to activate windshield wipers, open the trunk, and move the side-view mirrors.

The researchers said they notified Tesla in a vulnerability report, and that Keen Security Lab is working with Tesla to fix the issues. The vulnerabilities have been confirmed by the Tesla Product Security Team, according to Tencent.

Tencent researchers urged Tesla car owners to always update the firmware of their Tesla vehicles when possible "to ensure that the issues are fixed and avoid potential driving risks."

Tesla, a maker of electric cars, has a "bug bounty program" that allows researchers like those at Tencent to flag vulnerabilities in Tesla's products. The company says it offers anywhere from $100 to $10,000 per bug.

Tesla's Model S has received scrutiny of late over its Autopilot function, which garnered an evaluation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration earlier this year after the function was involved in an Ohio fatality. In August, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced plans to upgrade the autopilot system.

Two accidents in 2013 that resulted in Model S fires led to Tesla adding a titanium underbody shield and aluminum deflector plate to the vehicle to block debris puncturing the battery pack. No Tesla fires had been reported after those additions until a Model S burst into flames in August during a test drive in France.