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Tesla Hackers Show Risks of High Tech Cars

» Posted December 14, 2020Resources | Share This Post

As new cars become more and more reliant on computers and software, hackers have more ways to mess with those vehicles. 

Just ask Tesla: Flaws in Model X software allowed a researcher to show how the cars could easily be stolen. The problems generally surround the vehicle’s keyless entry system.

Tesla recently reportedly rolled out an over-the-air patch to address software vulnerabilities spotted by Belgian security researcher Lennert Wouters. The move came after Wouters says he spotted holes in security that would allow thieves to steal a Model X in minutes, using about $300 worth of hardware.  

Wouters says he told Tesla about the vulnerabilities in August. The hack sounds fairly simple: All you need to do is get the car’s vehicle identification and stand near the vehicle.

"Basically a combination of two vulnerabilities allows a hacker to steal a Model X in a few minutes time," Wouters told Wired.

You also need the right equipment. Wouters used a Raspberry Pi low-cost computer and a Model X body control module (BCM) that he purchased off eBay. The Model X treats the BCM as a trusted piece of hardware. 

A thief with a Model X VIN - usually visible on the vehicle’s dashboard - could clone a key fob using the hardware to break into the car’s Bluetooth connection, according to Wouters. The move would essentially trick the car into thinking that it is communicating with the original fob. 

Inside the car, there is a second step before a thief can drive off.

“By accessing the USB port hidden behind a panel under the display, Wouters is able to connect his backpack computer to the vehicle's CAN (Controller Area Network) bus and tell the vehicle's computer that his spoofed key fob is valid,” Roberto Baldwin writes for Car and Driver. “With that done, the Model X believes a valid key is in the vehicle and willingly starts up and is ready to drive away.”

California Lemon Law Rights

The Tesla hack is a good example of a whole new range of potential defects facing car owners as automotive technology advances. 

The good news is that even high tech cars are covered by California’s lemon law

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires car manufacturers to repair vehicles while they are under warranty. The law also obligates a manufacturer to buy back or replace cars the company cannot or will not fix.

California Lemon Law Attorney Can Help

Whether it is a new Tesla with shoddy software or a Ford Pinto with a fuel leak, anyone who is grappling with a vehicle manufacturer over defects and repairs should seek the advice of an experienced California lemon law attorney

At the Bickel Law Firm, we have successfully represented hundreds of clients in defective vehicle cases across California. We work tirelessly to get the people we represent the compensation they deserve.

Our offices are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.  Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with a California lemon law attorney today.


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