A Teenager Hacked A Bunch Of Teslas And Can Control Them

By Doug Norrie | 2 weeks ago

Tesla

When it comes to the dream of smart and relatively autonomous cars, like Tesla, one of the primary concerns is that they will be susceptible to malicious hacks from third parties, things that can put the car’s driver and passengers in real jeopardy. While we haven’t seen a ton of cases out there, the threat still seems very much real. And one teenager is saying he has found a way to hack certain Teslas and take control of some key features within the electric vehicle. Bloomberg has it that a 19-year-old German, David Colombo is making claims to have control of more than 20 Tesla cars in 13 different countries with the ability to control a number of different functions within the car. 

Colombo originally made the claim over his Twitter account where he detailed some of the Tesla functions he’d gained access to within these cars. For his part, it doesn’t seem like he, himself, has any ill-intent when it comes to controlling the vehicles, but rather is pointing out the issue from a security perspective. While he didn’t offer any concrete proof that he’d fully hacked the cars, he didn’t detail some of what he was able to control and part of how he originally gained access. Check it out:

In his Twitter thread, Colombo outlined some of what he’d been able to do with these Tesla functions. For starters, he’s quick to point out that the fault doesn’t necessarily lie with the manufacturer itself, but rather the owners who had installed third-party software which had major vulnerabilities. It was the latter that Colombo says was his means to hacking the Teslas, though he didn’t specify what exact software he had used. He also said that he’d been in touch with the Tesla security team to help identify the actual owners of the cars to inform them of the breach, something Colombo himself wasn’t able to do. He was only able to gain access to the cars, not the ability to communicate with the owners themselves. 

As part of his claims about the Tesla hack, Colombo outlined a few of the functions he was able to control. Among other things, because of these security lapses, his hack enabled him to control windows and door locks, radio functions, and keyless driving. Additionally, he says he could track the exact location of the vehicle and also determine whether or not the driver was present in the Tesla. That being said, Colombo did admit that this access did stop short of actually being able to take over control of actually driving the car. So I guess that’s good. 

The bright side of this Tesla hack is that Colombo appears to be at least one of the good guys. He isn’t trying to take advantage of Tesla users, or really even try to embarrass the car company or the third-party app that was vulnerable in this case. Instead, he’s merely pointing out the problem in the hopes that the proper precautions and fixes are put into place to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.