As Tesla prepares to release its latest Model 3 to the world, Chinese hackers have spoiled the party by showing off how they were able to hack into and take control of a Model X – and it isn't the first time.
Last year Chinese security researchers were able to hack into a Model X, with the vulnerabilities swiftly patched. Now, researchers from the same security lab at Tencent in China have been able to crack the car again – this time being able to slam on the brakes remotely as well as opening the falcon wing doors, and causing mayhem by hijacking the cars lights and music system.
The exploit attacked the car's built-in web browser and using a combination of wi-fi and mobile phone cellular connections allowed them to send malicious computer software to infect the system and give them unauthorised access to its vital functions.
Luckily the 'hackers' were not nefarious cybercriminals, instead the white hat hackers actively look for vulnerabilities in order to raise safety and security. The worrying discovery was raised with Tesla back in June and the problems were patched immediately, Samuel Lv, director of the Keen Security Lab at Tencent, told USA Today.
To calm any fears any amateur hacker could go on a Tesla hijacking rampage the researchers stressed that the hacks were very complex and not easy to pull off, as well as stating Tesla cars are no more vulnerable to hacks than any other vehicle.
Tesla responded by claiming it "actively encourages" this type of research in order to better protect its vehicles and that the risk to customers from these exploits are very low and it has not seen a single customer affected by them.
As cars become more connected and smarter, this opens up more points of opportunity to hackers. Famously, 'hackers' from the US were able to take control of a Jeep's steering and braking, which brought vehicle hacking to light.
One of those security researchers, Charlie Miller, was in attendance at the Black Hat conference where Tencent presented its findings.
"There are only three groups in the world who've successfully hacked cars. The University of Washington in 2010, me and Chris and now these guys. And they've done it twice," the report said.