Cars are precious. More than a means of transportation though, they hold a special meaning for their owners. That’s why it sucks when they get stolen. How do you protect them though? After all, locks can be picked. Tesla among other manufacturers, had the idea of removing the keyhole altogether. However, it seems that even that is not enough to keep enterprising thieves from plying their trade.
So basically how things work with Model S and most other smart cars that don’t use a physical key, is that a key fob is used to transmit a signal to unlock and start the vehicle. Up until now, this video was thought to be pretty much fail-safe. However, as the video above shows, a couple of enterprising thieves managed to unlock the Model S using just a tablet and a phone.
Basically, the duo was able to intercept the frequency used by the Tesla owner’s key fob, relay the signal to the car, and thus get it to open its doors to them.
The car owner reached out to Tesla and Elon Musk through Twitter:
@elonmusk My @tesla was stolen this morning, with just a tablet and a phone extending my fob range from the back of the house. I get that I should enabled PIN access. I wish it was harder for them to disable remote access though. I can’t track it or disable it. :(
Tesla actually has a few fail-safe measures in place, for instance, a two-factor feature called “PIN to drive,” that it recently rolled out and that requires drivers to enter a PIN code on the car’s touchscreen. Tesla has also warned users time an again that they need to turn off the “passive entry” feature that automatically unlocks the car when it recognizes the owner approaching with the key fob.
Unfortunately, the victim of the theft did not have any of these measures in place and the thieves were able to somehow use a tablet and smartphone to extend the range of his key fob, which was actually inside his house at the moment. They have also disabled remote access which means that neither the owner, nor Tesla itself can track the car.