Tesla has been gradually releasing new security features to make it more difficult for thieves to steal vehicles.
In the last week, Tesla invited more comparisons to the iPhone by offering a new “‘PIN to Drive’ feature along with improved cryptography” for its key fobs (i.e. keyless passive control).
This is a new optional feature that places the now age-old four-digit pin code as a barrier to starting a Tesla car.
To activate the feature, owners go to “Controls > Safety and Security > PIN to Drive.”
“We additionally added support for improved cryptography in our key fobs for Model S to guard against other attacks,” stated Tesla in the release notes.
The updates and added security feature follow reports of several Tesla vehicle thefts through relay attacks in Europe.
Nevertheless, Tesla vehicles are rarely stolen due to their never-off advanced GPS tracking system. In fact, stolen Tesla vehicles in the U.S. have been reported as recovered 112 out of 115 times. More tech-savvy thieves in Europe, however, can still get away with it due to those relay attacks on key fobs.
This weakness is not unique to Tesla vehicles, but rather any vehicle with a key fob or keyless/passive entry. Tesla’s update is intended to increase the difficulty of the effectiveness of this attack.
The company has also recently shared tips to help increase security, including disabling Passive Entry (Controls > Settings > Doors & Locks > Passive Entry > OFF).
Tesla plans to bring the latest security update to all models, including the new Model 3.
The company points out that the Model X key fobs aren’t as vulnerable to attacks since they already have “robust cryptography” while Model S vehicles have been produced with same secure key fobs since June 2018.
Tesla also states that customers with the older Model S key fobs can contact Tesla’s service department to upgrade their key fob.
Oftentimes Tesla is affectionately referred to as the “iPhone-on-wheels.” With Tesla continuing to release updates to support this view, what do you think the company’s long term affect will be on the auto industry?