Hackers figure out how to jailbreak Tesla to get pricey in-car upgrades without paying

They claim they can unlock several Tesla features that you'd usually pay for, including rear heated seats, self-driving and navigation system maps.

by | Published on 4th Aug 2023

Apparently, a group of “researchers” say they’ve found a way to jailbreak Tesla.

They claim they’re capable of hacking the hardware that underpins Tesla’s infotainment system.

This allows them to access what would normally be paid upgrades for free.

READ MORE! Elon Musk reveals the one thing that’s holding back Tesla’s Full Self Driving

As well as unlocking heated rear seats, this gives owners the ability to enable the self-driving and navigation system in regions where it’s not normally available.

That being said, the hackers have admitted they haven’t tested these capabilities yet.

The reason being is that it would require more reverse engineering.

Next week the Black Hat cybersecurity conference is taking place in Las Vegas.

And it’s there that the hackers plan to present their research.

The research is being conducted by three students from Technische Universität Berlin, as well as another independent researcher.

One of the students, Christian Werling, said that their “attack” requires physical access to the Tesla, but that’s exactly the scenario where the jailbreak would be useful.

Werling insists they’re not the “evil outsider”, but they’re actually the “insider” who owns the car.

Basically, he doesn’t think Tesla owners should have to pay $300 for rear heated seats.

He’s got a point to be fair, and many Tesla owners would probably agree with him.

But not everyone will agree with the technique the hackers are using to jailbreak the Tesla.

It’s called voltage glitching, which involves fiddling around with the supply voltage of the AMD processor that runs the infotainment system.

It’s not easy, though, as it requires doing it at the right moment, tricking the CPU into doing something else.

Basically it has a hiccup, skips an introduction, and accepts the hackers’ manipulated code.

As well as extracting the encryption key used to authenticate the car to Tesla’s network, they were also able to extract personal information from the car.

This data could be attractive to people who don’t own the Tesla, but stil have physical access to it.

But, if this were to happen, it would require Tesla replacing the hardware, which would probably be easier said than done.



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Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with motor manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for supercarblondie.com. Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.

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