After speaking at the recently-held Defcon hacking conference, Elon Musk announced on Twitter that Tesla would be open-sourcing its electric cars’ security system to other carmakers. This means that even competitors such as GM, BMW, and Porsche would be able to utilize Tesla’s systems to make their vehicles safer.
Elon Musk posted the update on his official Twitter page over the weekend, following posts on social media about his appearance at the hacking conference. According to Musk’s tweet, it is pertinent for the self-driving car industry to be focused on safety, considering that the vehicles would essentially be working computers on wheels. By open-sourcing Tesla’s vehicle security software, Musk is now opening the doors for even white hat hackers to improve the company’s security software.
It would not be the first time that such a thing happened. As noted in an Electrek report, Musk previously admitted that one of the biggest threats when it comes to autonomous vehicles is the fact that they can be hacked. Musk gave a lighthearted example of fleet hacking before, stating that even hackers doing a prank would likely cause a major inconvenience to people.
“In principles, if someone was able to say hack all the autonomous Teslas, they could say – I mean just as a prank – they could say ‘send them all to Rhode Island’ [laugh] – across the United States… and that would be the end of Tesla, and there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island,” Musk said.
Tesla has also directly communicated with hackers to improve its vehicles’ software. Back in 2016, Keen Security Lab, a white hat hacker group based in China, was able to remotely hack a Model S through a compromised WiFi hotspot, conducting one of the first known instances of a Tesla being hacked. Keen Security Lab contacted Tesla after they successfully compromised the electric car, and Tesla promptly pushed an update to address the vulnerability.
With Tesla’s vehicle software now being open-sourced, even competing car manufacturers can use the Elon Musk-led company’s software to make their vehicles safer. Other car makers such as GM, after all, while having electric cars in their lineup like the Chevy Bolt EV, are not very particular about their cars’ software. Traditional automakers seem to be approaching the self-driving market from a non-software perspective, and this is something that could prove to be fatal.
Fortunately, Tesla is a tech company at heart, and it seems to be fully aware that the security of its vehicles is paramount. With the company’s security software being open-sourced, other car makers could be very foolish not to build upon Tesla’s progress in the vehicle software field.