Tesla Model S-05

According to a report by Automotive News, citing The Financial Times, a team of researchers from a cybersecurity firm have successfully hacked and gained control of a Tesla Model S. Among the six “significant flaws” determined, one of the most telling was that the team managed to turn the vehicle off from a “low speed of five miles per hour (8 km/h)” and bring it to a complete standstill.

“All the screens go black, the music turns off and the handbrake comes on, lurching it to a stop,” commented Cloudfare principal security researcher, Marc Rogers. The exercise, headed by Rogers and Kevin Mahaffey of cybersecurity firm Lookout, was conducted as part of a demonstration to promote both firms’ “reputation for understanding software better than that of most automakers.”

With that said, the hackers were only able to do so upon gaining physical entry into the Model S and plugging a laptop into the car’s system, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Not one to take unnecessary risks, Tesla Motors has since issued a countermeasure in the form of an “over-the-air” update to all owners of the Model S to help quell the “vulnerabilities.”

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The firm has also confirmed that the hackers were only able to gain control of the vehicle from the inside in a statement. “Our security team works closely with the security research community to ensure that we continue to protect our systems against vulnerabilities by constantly stress-testing, validating, and updating our safeguards,” the carmaker stated.

As frightening as it may seem, at least the hackings this time round were conducted in a controlled environment. Just recently, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) issued a recall for 1.4 million units of its vehicles in the US over concerns that a variety of its models were susceptible to wireless hacking.