Just Stop…

Saturday 19th July 2014

Tesla Key FobTesla’s in the news so much lately, whether that be the announcement of their Model 3 car (which, by the way, looks very nice – I might like to have one of those), or the hacking of the Model S or the awful car crash that happened, it seems that it’s time to think about how to protect your lovely new EV from those criminal types that might take it away. Let me say here that I feel so much for the family of the man that died after crashing the Model S during a high speed chase with the police. His family must be devastated. I only wish he had thought twice before stealing the car and putting his family through this ordeal.

So, how to protect EV’s and of course their owners?

Well, I think that there should be a choice for EV owners… The ability to turn on over the air control from the manufacturer. In the event of a theft, the car can be put into valet mode and not driven above 20 miles an hour – no high speed chases. With this option comes the uncertainty of security and the possibility of hacking… Really have these people nothing better to do than hack into other peoples property? Ugh – so annoying of them.

Can EV manufacturers make their systems secure enough to prevent hacking? I would like to think so as the option to turn on valet mode over the air seems really appealing. For Tesla, this would seem simple as they already do software updates over the air – no taking your car to the dealership for two days just to have the software updated… Are you listening BMW?

The obvious choice would seem to be to allow Tesla to remotely control your car and command it to stop however, that always seems to lead into a debate over privacy. I’m not sure why because, I think that there is a simple solution to this problem.

TeslaInteriorFeaturesIf your car was reported stolen Tesla could send a message to the car that the car was going to be stopped in a few minutes unless you typed in your personal PIN code. This would appear all over the screen giving you ample time to tap in your four-digit code if this were all a big mistake or, if the system had been hacked by someone looking to stop and rob you. You could even be given enough time to pull over, call a friend and ask to be reminded of the code – who hasn’t forgotten their password? The ‘thief’ would simply not know this code and would be faced with a question, “Do I carry on knowing the cops are close behind or, do I duck into this dark alley, stop the car and run as fast as I can?” Once the car was located, a quick call to the real owner could release the code allowing the car to be moved.

16105671_sThe bigger question is, would a thief even attempt to take a car knowing this system was in place? How would this feature impact your insurance? Should this be an EV only thing?

Privacy advocates are obviously concerned about vehicle tracking but, that is not what we are suggesting here. This is not location related but a message sent from Tesla HQ to say that we are going to shut down your car by slowly decreasing the power, if you do not put your PIN code in.

The ability to turn on over the air control could be up to the owner and could be turned on and off as and when needed. So, if you are driving the car you might turn it off and only turn it on when you leave the car parked up. Consider this an additional security feature of the car, maybe it’s tied into the locking of the doors when you leave the car.

Would you sign up for a service like this?


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  • u010eakujem

    Perfectly logical. The Model S has the screen space and the tech available for remote disabling, so they should offer it.nAs for the Model 3, which you say “looks very nice”, do you actually have a confirmed picture of it’s styling? I can only find mock-ups from fans. Have Tesla finally released styling on the Model 3? That begs another question: will the Model 3 become the “M3” in shorthand? BMW might not like that, but then BMW don’t like anything that’s better than what they offer… 😉

    • Electra Girl

      I’ve only seen mock ups, but I expect it to look very nice, as so far the two cars they have produced have been rather splendid. In regard to the ‘M3’, I’m not sure but anything is likely.

  • vdiv

    My BMW vehicle from 12 years ago had an optional 4-digit PIN on the “Business” radio that had to be entered every time in order to start the engine in addition to the key. After a while it became really annoying having to enter the PIN so I turned it off.nnMy current vehicle has OnStar, which has the ability to disable the car remotely (as the owner I don’t have that ability directly). Also with a newly introduced feature I can locate the car.nnIt all boils down to timing and awareness. The Tesla Model S incident happened very quickly. It is doubtful anyone could have responded in time.

  • WeaponZero

    To point out a few things.nnn1) The problem with cars having systems that disable or limit them remotely is the police don’t use them. What good is a system that isn’t used? The police like doing the chasing, gets them on TV.nnn2) As for hacking, well first of all, the Tesla so far has not been hacked. What was hacked was the mobile app. Now obviously nothing can every be 100% secure. But overall, there is not much money in hacking cars, too traceable and too hard to get away with.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Why say the police don’t use them? I thought that the police in the UK & US had made great use of tracking systems.nnnThe userid/pwd hack is the perfect back door hack as it goes un-noticed whilst the access info and personal data gets sold. It’s also the route to a remote triggering of door unlock and location, two pieces of info that could result in a theft from the car without having to break a window. I admit that the average crim’ today would rather just smash a window, grab the laptop and run but, look around, the.re are automated tools for creating believable trojan emails and phishing, how long before there’s an online tool for opening cars? Enter the make/model/license plate into your smartphone and the doors pop open.

      • WeaponZero

        I am talking about the stop systems built into the cars, cops rarely use them.nnnEven if you unlock the car, you still can’t steal it as you need a key.

  • I find it interesting when the subject of remote valet mode or some other theft deterrent is discussed, car hacking is brought up.nnnThis car and many others are already connected to the internet and potentially vulnerable to attack. The matter of remote valet mode introduces no new threats of hacking. The vehicles will be vulnerable with or without remote theft systems.nnnI do like the idea of the requirement to enter a pin when the car enters ‘theft mode’, at least the owner is aware of a remote access and initiation of theft mode, e it legitimate or as a result of a hacker. I can think of one problem with this approach. Say I hack your car and initiate the theft mode, you are prompted for your pin. You enter it, I capture it, wait for you to park then steal your car. A more secure system would use Google Authenticator to prompt for a constantly changing pin number.