Musk to hackers: thanks for finding the bugs
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Musk to hackers: thanks for finding the bugs

What’s high on the list of things you wouldn’t want from your self-driving car? Here’s one thing: the ability to be taken over remotely by hackers and driven wherever they want. That might sound like the start of a science fiction film, but it’s a distinct possibility – unless bugs in these vehicles are found and fixed before roll out. Now, a group of Chinese hackers have discovered just such a bug in Tesla Model S’s autopilot mode. And Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to praise them.

Tesla’s share price has risen by 4% over the last 5 days

05 04 tesla

Source: Yahoo Finance

In a blog post Monday, Tencent Keen Security Lab detailed their findings. They said they’d been able to activate the Model S’s automatic windshield wipers with a special computer-generated image. And that they’d been able to “trick” the autopilots lane-keeping capabilities by putting specific markings on a road. Lastly (and most worryingly) they’d managed to take control of the steering wheel using a wireless game controller.

Mr. Musk’s response to this publication of his product’s weaknesses? “Solid work by Keen, as usual.”

One of the way’s in which Big Tech differs from other industries is that it actively engages with (read: ethical) hackers, offering bonuses to people who can discover weaknesses in its systems. Tesla might be an automaker and a luxury goods company in some respects, but in this crucial regard, its tech credentials still show. And when it comes to product testing, that’s a good thing.

A spokesperson for Tesla said that the security weakness which allowed the steering co-option had been dealt with, and that the other problems Keen discovered were not a threat: “The rest of the findings are all based on scenarios in which the physical environment around the vehicle is artificially altered to make the automatic windshield wipers or Autopilot system behave differently, which is not a realistic concern given that a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time by using the steering wheel or brakes and should always be prepared to do so, and can manually operate the windshield wiper settings at all times.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Tesla in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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