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Tesla: they discover a security flaw that allows opening and starting vehicles

Tesla Model Y in Gruenheide, Germany (Patrick Pleul/Pool via REUTERS)
Tesla Model Y in Gruenheide, Germany (Patrick Pleul/Pool via REUTERS)

A group of security researchers discovered a security flaw in vehicle keyless technology Tesla. This technology allows the opening and starting of vehicles without using a physical key.


The problem is that the identified flaw allows cyber attackers to intervene and use this tool to steal cars.

This access system is accompanied by other security systems based on the proximity of a remote control or a key with Bluetooth or a smartphone.


Now, UK-based security consultancy NCC Group determined how cybercriminals could exploit a vulnerability in your system to open smart locks.

In a demonstration, the main consultant of this entity, Sultan Qasim Khan, highlighted this system failure in the Tesla Model 3, although he explained that it is not exclusive to the car brand founded by Elon Musk nor has there been evidence of that there have been cases with Tesla cars.


What the researcher did in the tests carried out was to identify that the aforementioned flaw exists and could be used by attackers. This determines that any vehicle using the system Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for keyless entry can be subject to such attacksaccording to a statement from the consultancy.

BLE technology has low power requirements, interoperability between the different manufactured chipsets and a small size. These benefits make this protocol used in many devices within the automotive industry, home and health.

Unlike classic Bluetooth, BLE stays in sleep mode constantly, except when a connection is started (Photo: Andrea Warnecke/dpa)
Unlike classic Bluetooth, BLE stays in sleep mode constantly, except when a connection is started (Photo: Andrea Warnecke/dpa)

The cyber attackers they can redirect communications between the car owner’s mobile phone and the vehicle itself to trick the system input and make you think that the owner is physically near the machine.

Khan explains that in reporting its findings to Tesla, the company has not listed them as a significant risk, despite the fact that according to the consultant this research “changes the way engineers and consumers should think about the security of Bluetooth communications. ”.

The consultant also indicated that it is a traditional failure that can be solved with a simple software patch.

It should be remembered that this NCC Group investigation comes after another security researcher, David Colombo, revealed a way to hack some functions of Tesla cars, such as those responsible for opening and closing their doors or controlling the volume of their music.

security recommendations

From the consultancy they warn that it is necessary to make users aware of the risks of Bluetooth relay attacks and encourage them to use the PIN to Drive function. This is a Tesla security system that requires the entry of a password in order to drive the vehicle. In this way, an extra layer of care is added that serves to protect against vulnerabilities such as the one identified.

Besides, suggests that the company offer users an option to disable the keyless function in vehicles in certain cases. “To reduce the opportunities for relay attacks, consider disabling passive input functionality in the app when the mobile device has been stationary for more than a minute,” they suggest from the security consultancy.

They also believe it would be a good idea for the mobile app to report the last known location of the mobile device during the authentication process with the vehicle, so that the car can detect and reject long-distance relay attacks.

(With information from Europe Press)

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