Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hackers Crack Tesla Software to Get Free Features: Sources

A group of researchers from TU Berlin has recently made a bold claim that they have discovered a hack that enables free access to premium features on Tesla vehicles. This jailbreak, is uncatchable, leaving Tesla with no option but to replace the vehicle’s hardware to counter the exploit. The hack specifically targets Tesla’s Media Control Unit (MCU) infotainment system, a standard feature in recent models.

Tesla, known for its advanced car computer, has extended its platform to facilitate in-car purchases. These purchases can unlock features like enhanced connectivity and even analog functionalities. Moreover, it includes accelerated rear seat heating. However, this expansion has created an opportunity for hackers to uncover system vulnerabilities.

The researchers’ technique employs a known flaw within the AMD processor present in the MCU. Termed “voltage glitching,” this method manipulates the processor’s behavior, effectively capitalizing on its vulnerability. It is important to note that this attack requires physical access to the targeted Tesla vehicle.

Furthermore, while this hack offers users free access to premium features, it also exposes personal information stored within the vehicle, such as contacts and appointments. Notably, this breach of information requires direct physical interaction with the vehicle, minimizing the risk of remote exploitation.

Among the premium features that Tesla confines behind paywalls are the “Acceleration Boost,” priced at $2,000, and the coveted “Full Self-Driving” capability, which commands a hefty amount of $15,000. The researchers’ discovery raises questions about the full scope of this hack’s potential, as they did not explore all software upgrades.

The research team, comprised of a security expert and three PHD students from Germany, plans to present their findings at the upcoming Blackhat 2023 conference. During this presentation, they will demonstrate a functional version of the attack targeting Tesla’s latest AMD-based MCU. The jailbreak leverages a previously-known hardware vulnerability within the MCU, ultimately providing access to crucial systems responsible for in-car purchases. This could potentially trick the car into recognizing these purchases as already paid for.

As the impact of the researchers’ findings ripples through the industry, the response of Tesla to this unforeseen challenge remains to be seen.

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