Hack Into A Tesla Model S, Win $10,000?

At the SyScan Conference in Beijing this week, the security of the electric Model S will be put to the test by hackers.

Hack Into A Tesla Model S, Win $10,000?
[Image: Flickr user Maurizio Pesce]

Tesla is going all-in on the Model S, the mid-priced electric sedan it hopes will convince consumers that gasless vehicles are the future of driving. But first? Tesla will have to prove that its software systems are safe from scary and not-insignificant nuisances–like hackers.


At the SyScan Conference taking place in Beijing this week (July 16 and 17), a small collection of white-hat tech geeks will have a chance to win $10,000 if they can successfully hack into a Model S and manipulate the car’s controls remotely.

As Autoblog suggests, though, breaking into one will likely require some supervillain-level hacking:

The Model S may maintain a constant data signal via its driver’s cellphone, but it seems unlikely that Tesla hasn’t installed a comprehensive security system to prevent electronic tampering. Tesla, for what it’s worth, has no part in the competition.

The safety of Tesla’s authentication protocols have been called into question by security experts before, and some of the more sophisticated hackers out there have been able to gain remote control of consumer vehicles like Priuses.

For example: A 2013 Forbes article revealed that a team of DARPA-backed researchers were able to remotely break into cars built by Toyota and Ford to wreak havoc–from more benign stuff like honking its horn to slamming on the brakes at high speeds.

We’ll see if the Model S ends up faring any better.

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.