Sep 11, 2018 - Energy & Environment

Tesla mitigates car-stealing key fob problem

Line up of red Tesla cars at a car dealership outside.

Tesla Model S vehicles parked outside a car dealership in Shanghai. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Hackers can easily clone key fobs on Model S Teslas sold before June, according to researchers at KU Leuven university in Belgium.

The details: As the researchers outlined to Wired, the old key fobs used 40-bit encryption. "40-bit" describes the size of the cryptographic key used to secure the system. Each bit makes it exponentially more difficult to hack.

  • To prevent an attack, owners of older Teslas can either now set their cars to require a PIN before starting or replace their fobs with the souped-up new one.
  • 40 bits is not enough. The KU Leuven team reverse engineered Telsa's security system, and with the help of a few hundred dollars in technology, their technique can guess the key.

Be smart: If you have a Model S, set up a PIN or get a new fob.

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