Feeds

Tesla cars 'hackable' says Dell engineer

REST authentication mess could allow attacker to open the sunroof

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Slack authentication in Tesla's Model S REST API exposes the electric car to a variety of non-safety but non-trivial attacks, according to a Dell engineer and Tesla owner.

In this post over at O'Reilly, Dell senior distinguished engineer and executive director of cloud computing George Reese says the “flawed” authentication protocol in the Tesla REST API “makes no sense”. Rather than using OAuth, Tesla has decided to craft its own authentication, which Reese unpicked.

There's one small reassurance for owners of the 'leccy car: none of the vulnerabilities he discusses cause any kind of safety issue – although he creepily notes that an attacker would be able to see everywhere the car goes.

Tesla, it turns out, has broken one of the golden rules of security – the one that says “don't re-use user IDs and passwords for different functions”. In this case, the e-mail and password used to build the car at the Tesla Website are retained later for customers logging into the car via the Website.

There's also a persistence issue: when a user logs into the Tesla Website to get to their car, it creates a three-month token for which there's no revocation mechanism. If the system is compromised, the attacker would have access to the login for three months, and if “an attacker gains access to a website’s database of authenticated tokens,” then all the cars would be visible to the attacker.

While the flaw doesn't offer access to any “operational” aspects of the car – like steering or brakes – the risks are still significant. An attacker could fool around with configuration settings, the climate control, the sunroof, open the charge port, and anything else supported by the API. Apart from tracking owners' movements, “there is enough here to do some economic damage both in terms of excess electrical usage and forcing excess wear on the batteries”, Reese notes.

Reese links to an unofficial documentation of the API, which outlines its capabilities, here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.