Hackers Could Steal a Tesla Model S by Cloning Its Key Fob—Again

WIRED | 8/27/2019 | Andy Greenberg
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Two weeks shy of a year ago, researchers revealed a serious flaw in the security of Tesla's vehicles. With little more than some standard radio equipment, they were able to defeat the encryption on a Model S's keyless entry system to wirelessly clone the sedan's key fob in seconds, unlocking a car and driving it away without ever touching the owner's key. In response, Tesla created a new version of its key fob that patched the underlying flaw. But now, those same researchers say they've found yet another vulnerability—one that affects even the new key fobs.

In a talk at the Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems conference in Atlanta today, researcher Lennert Wouters of Belgian university KU Leuven revealed that his team has again found a technique capable of breaking the Model S key fob's encryption. That would allow them to again clone the keys and stealthily steal the car. Wouters notes the new attack is more limited in its radio range than the previous one, takes a few seconds longer to perform, and that the KU Leuven researchers haven't actually carried out the full attack demonstration as they did last year—they've just proven that it's possible. But their analysis was convincing enough that Tesla has acknowledged the possibility of thieves exploiting the technique, rolling out a software fix that will be pushed out over-the-air to Tesla dashboards.

Wouters - Vulnerability - Fob - Firm - Pektron

Wouters says the vulnerability of the key fob, manufactured by a firm called Pektron, comes down to a configuration bug that vastly reduces the time necessary to crack its encryption. Despite Tesla and Pektron's upgrade from easily broken 40-bit encryption in the previous versions to far more secure 80-bit encryption in the newer key fobs—a doubling of the key length that ought to have made cracking the encryption about a trillion times harder—the bug...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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