Tech

Footage shows a Tesla Model S being highjacked by hacking the key fob

Camera footage shows a Tesla Model S being hacked by accessing the passive entry system through what seems to be a tablet in Essex, England. The owner of the car, Anthony Kennedy, posted the video on YouTube to caution others on how easy it is to access the high-tech vehicle without enabling certain safety features.

The video shows the perpetrators using a tablet to gain a signal from the key fob inside the house, and then using the data to gain full access to the $58000 vehicle.

“My @tesla was stolen this morning, with just a tablet and a phone extending my fob range from the back of the house,” Kennedy tweeted on October 20.

Ironically, the crooks had more trouble detaching the charging cable (which requires you to press a button), than they did highjacking the car.

Tesla is aware that their high-tech cars are vulnerable to hacking methods, so they recently equipped their vehicles with updated features that deter any kind of passive entry theft. However, Kennedy, who is a senior manager at a big tech firm, admitted that he ignorantly did not enable these features.

Kennedy could have enabled the “PIN to drive” feature which would provide additional protection by requiring another passcode before driving off. The bigger issue was that he did not deactivate the “passive entry” mode which unlocks the car simply by walking up to it with the key fob.

An additional safety measure would have been to store the key fob in a “Faraday pouch” which would deter the crooks from receiving a signal from the key.

This same issue happened before in 2013 and completely puzzled investigators. The NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) president and CEO Joe Wehrle commented in a post that “The scary part is that there’s no warning or explanation for the owner. Unless someone catches the crime on a security camera, there’s no way for the owner or the police to really know what happened.”

Kennedy said he uploaded the video to YouTube after he posted about the incident on a Tesla forum. However, some people are accusing him of fabricating the story.


“I got quite upset and that’s why I made the video… to shut them up,” he told Business Insider.

Following the video which amassed more than 200k views in a day, Tesla made a statement to Business Insider which reads:

“Due to the growing number of methods that can be used to steal many kinds of cars with passive entry systems, not just Teslas, we’ve rolled out a number of security enhancements to help our customers decrease the likelihood of unauthorized use of their vehicles.

“None of these options would be possible for any traditional automaker – our ability to update software over the air to improve functionality and security is unique.”

“We have issued several over-the-air updates to help protect our customers from thefts – last year we introduced an update that allows all customers to turn off passive entry entirely, and this year we introduced PIN to Drive, which allows customers to set a unique PIN that needs to be entered before their vehicle is driven.”

All things aside, Kennedy says, “That doesn’t negate the fact that I’m a victim of theft and these two should be caught.”