Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) was one of the attendees at Def Con, the annual hacker convention at Las Vegas, inviting hackers to identify security flaws in the software that controls their cars, the Wall Street Journal‘s Digits blog reported.
The electric car maker’s presence at the event testifies to the growing security concerns in the auto industry with regard to connected cars. These high-end, super cars that are loaded with networked devices, Bluetooth radios, Wi-Fi connectivity also make them vulnerable to potential attacks. Theoretically, a compromised account means the attacker can remotely control most of the car’s systems, like door locks, wipers, sunroof and also check the location of the vehicle. Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)’s Model S had come under criticism from security researchers for its authentication protocol.
Kristin Paget, who is responsible for the security of Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)’s cars, was quoted as saying that the company was looking to hire 20 -30 security researchers from Def Con. Additionally, the company was offering a platinum-colored “challenge coin” to researchers who identified potential security flaws and free tour to those who were willing to help the security team at the Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) factory.
Paget, or the “hacker princess” as she is also known, was earlier associated with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and prior to that with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) where she was responsible for security in the Vista operating system. While she did not state any specific security concerns, she did mention that Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) had fixed at least one security flaw in their cars. The automaker can make over-the-air software upgrades since all their cars are connected.
Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) has always been on the forefront of technological advancements and newer versions of their vehicle software will include more improved features. This also underscores a crucial need to move away from reliance on the traditional single factor authentication and trusted networks to a more robust security architecture.