At this year’s Def Con (the world’s longest running and largest hacking conference), there’s no doubt that premium car maker and corporate household name Tesla definitely looked a little bit out of place.
Usually attendees try to hack the hotel elevators and press room, but this year, Elon Musk invited code genius’ to find find holes in the software it uses to control its cars. And that’s not all. The hackers could even cash in on their hobby, with Kristin Paget (Tesla’s head of security) stating that the famous car-maker is looking on the hunt to hire 20 to 30 security researchers from the Las Vegas convention alone. Hackers that report bugs will also receive a platinum-coloured “challenge coin”, or can get a free tour of the Tesla factory by helping out the team there. Musk seemingly takes no shortcuts, ensuring his products are the best of the best by enlisting a team at the top of their game. Paget, who previously worked for Apple and Microsoft, also goes by the name ‘Hacker Princess’, and states that thanks to the convention, the company had already fixed at least one security flaw in their car’s software (which can be upgraded over-the-air like an iPhone).
But Musk’s dedication highlights a growing concern amongst the automobile industry: the Internet. In the same way that hackers are able to extract personal details and bank data by invading your network, cars such as the Chrysler Group’s 2014 Jeep Cherokee connects its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication to the same system as their brakes and automatic parallel parking functions - meaning that once they’ve invaded the internet, they could potentially also control your car… and therefore your life.
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