Tesla CEO Elon Musk has told a conference one of the biggest risks for autonomous vehicles is somebody achieving a fleet-wide hack.
CSO Online reports that he told America’s National Governors Association summer meeting, “In principle, if somebody was able to hack, say, all of the autonomous Teslas, they could, say—I mean just as a prank—they could say like ‘send them all to Rhode Island’ from across the United States. And that would be like, well OK, that would be the end of Tesla. And there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island, that’s for sure.”
The report says that he explained how preventing a fleet-wide hack is “pretty fundamental. It is my top concern from a security standpoint—that Tesla is making sure that a fleet-wide hack or any vehicle-specific hack can’t occur,” he said. “So, we have to make super sure that a fleet-wide hack is basically impossible and that if people are in the car, that they have override authority on whatever the car is doing. So, if the car is doing something wacky, you can press a button that no amount of software can override—that will ensure that you gain control of the vehicle and cut the link to the servers.”
The report says Musk touched on Tesla’s multiple subsystems and specialised encryption, “so even if somebody would gain access to the car, they cannot gain access to the powertrain or to the braking system.” He says preventing a fleet-wide or vehicle-specific hack will be even a “bigger challenge for the other car companies.”