It goes without saying that the very connectedness of self-driving vehicles is also, without the shadow of any doubt, their biggest flaw. Unlike traditional vehicles that do not require any connections to the digital highway, autonomous vehicles are highly susceptible to remote hacking, and the very real possibility of others taking control of such vehicles.

Security researchers at Keen Security Lab, a division of China’s Tencent, demonstrated this frightening possibility by remotely hacking into a Tesla Model S. They were able to take control of the vehicle’s infotainment system, turn the vehicle’s side mirrors, pop open the trunk – and most unsettlingly – they succeeded in activating the brakes of the car, while it was in motion. Now, imagine that happening while driving at 75 MPH. Or 100 MPH. Just Sayin’.

According to the researchers, they have already informed Tesla of the vulnerability, and they collaborated with them to issue a patch before releasing their findings. They also stressed that certain conditions had to align before this stunt could be successfully pulled off, such as close proximity to a hostile Wi-Fi hotspot.

That is good to know, although not every hacker is so friendly—some will find vulnerabilities and fully exploit them.

 

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