Tesla owners warned their cars can be unlocked and driven away without a key

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Cybersecurity company NCC Group said it found security flaws in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the technology that many cars, including Tesla, use to detect when an owner is close by and allow them to operate the vehicle without turning a key.

Worryingly for owners, when demonstrated the hack was not only able to unlock the Tesla, but also drive it away.

The company said that millions of other vehicles from different firms were also vulnerable to the same issue.

An NCC press release stated: “Our research shows that systems that people rely on to guard their cars, homes and private data are using Bluetooth proximity authentication mechanisms that can be easily broken with cheap off-the-shelf hardware.”

Tesla owners can download an app that enables them to do without a traditional key, and it’s that which causes the problem according to NCC.

It said they were able to use a series of so-called relaying devices to trick a 2020 Tesla Model 3 into thinking its owner’s phone was nearby, when in fact the phone was 25 metres away.

NCC Group was able to unlock and operate the Tesla even when the authorised iPhone was far outside of bluetooth range.

The company said it expects Model Y vehicles are vulnerable to the same attack, reported Insider.

NCC Group principal security consultant Sultan Qasim Khan said: “What makes this powerful is not only that we can convince a Bluetooth device that we are near it — even from hundreds of miles away — but that we can do it even when the vendor has taken defensive mitigations.”

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The Beta program benefits owners by allowing them to have the most recent FSD release, but it also benefits Tesla through the accumulation of driving data.

Teslas are outfitted with external cameras that capture imagery necessary for security features like Sentry Mode or semi-autonomous driving functions.

The cameras transmit images to the company’s Autopilot team and are then compiled by computers to improve performance by learning the behaviours of other drivers.

Tesla’s FSD suite will therefore become more accurate and complex with every mile driven by people testing it.

The company also began taking orders for its Tesla Semi Truck, an all-electric 18-wheeler announced back in 2017.

Although customers are now able to place a deposit on the vehicle, there is no firm date for production set.

Most Semi Truck customers are expected to be corporations like Walmart and Pepsi, which have already placed orders on the long-haul electric vehicles.

Tesla shares rose after Musk’s announcements which included the fact he is putting his purchase of Twitter on hold.

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