Hackers plan to expose Tesla Model S software flaws at Defcon conference

With its tablet-like controls and over-the-air software updates, the Tesla Model S is a car built to please the denizens of Silicon Valley, but also something bordering on an obsession for the hacker community.

While concerns over car hacking have been raised over many models, Tesla’s electric luxury car seems to always be among the most talked about targets. At the Defcon hacker conference in Los Angeles next month, two cyber security efforts plan to expose some of its flaws, reports Forbes.

CloudFare research lead Marc Rogers and Lookout co-founder Kevin Mahaffey will reveal five “zero days,” – previously unknown vulnerabilities – in the Model S. Tesla has already fixed a sixth bug found by Rogers and Mahaffey, but if it doesn’t address the other five before the conference, there will be a window in which hacking a Tesla will be easier than before.

The researchers will also reportedly release a tool that makes it easier for users to analyze data going in and out of a car. The talk will include a comprehensive examination of the Model S software architecture, including explanations of how different systems interact with each other, how they can be hacked, and how Tesla may use data collected from cars, a conference press blurb says.

Tesla likely won’t give its blessing to this talk, although it is expected to be at the conference in some capacity. The company previously confirmed that it will have a display at the show, with reports suggesting it will also let attendees tinker with one of its cars.

This is not the first time the Model S has gotten the attention of hackers. Much to Tesla’s chagrin, a competition was held at the Syscan conference last year, with a $10,000 prize going to a Chinese team that successfully hacked the car.

As cars become increasingly connected to smartphones and other vulnerable electronic systems, car hacking has become a topic of increasing interest for researchers and even U.S. Senator Ed Markey, who issued a report earlier this year lambasting carmakers for their lack of security.