Sometimes a story seems too unreal to be true but when it comes to hacks, nothing is impossible. Apparently, a whitehat hacker successfully managed to access Tesla's internal servers and the firm's entire fleet.
The hack happened back in 2017 and was done by Jason Hughes known in the Tesla community under his WK057 alias. Being a good guy, Hughes reported the vulnerabilities that allowed him to perform the hack to Tesla and they were surely patched up but the incident does bring attention to the dangers of autonomous vehicles.
At the time of the incident, Hughes was playing around with Tesla vehicles by building off-grid energy storage systems and electric conversion kits. He had even turned his skills into a fruitful business where he sold parts from salvaged Teslas.
While doing all that, he discovered a series of vulnerabilities in Tesla’s fleet management systems. He immediately alerted Tesla's head of software security.
The executive asked him to prove the hack by activating the Summon feature on a car in California. This was a piece of cake for Hughes who did so quite easily. He also shared a vulnerability report online. Grateful for pointing out this flaw, Tesla paid Hughes a whopping $50,000. Quite a story eh?
Electrek also reported that Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to the hack at an event back in 2017, pointing out how disastrous such an event would be.
“In principle, if someone was able to say hack all the autonomous Teslas, they could say — I mean just as a prank — they could say ‘send them all to Rhode Island’ — across the United States… and that would be the end of Tesla and there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island,” he said.