Tesla Motors is hiring up to 30 full-time hackers to expose and close vulnerabilities in the firmware for their electric cars.
The federal government is planning to require all vehicle manufactures to utilize vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications in smaller cars within the next few years, which makes the goal of improving firmware security more imperative than ever before.
"Our security team is focused on advancing technology to secure connected cars," a Tesla spokesman told Computer World. The spokesman also told Computer World that the company's goal is to set new standards for security and capabilities as we enter a new era of "connected cars."
By far, Tesla's cars are the most digitally connected as most of the vehicle function can be controlled remotely via the battery, transmission, entertainment systems, and door locks. This offers car owners an unprecedented amount of control, but also opens the possibility for disaster with security systems.
Security researchers have given examples of what hackers would be capable of, such as taking control of the car's navigation, braking, and acceleration. Scary stuff, indeed.
The primary goal of V2V communication is to set a standard in which vehicles automatically share information in order to avoid unnecessary automobile accidents. The technology is still in its infant stages, but will become widespread sooner than many might expect.
Tesla's move to hire full-time hackers is just the first step to protect car owners against security threats. The company was the only carmaker to attend the most recent DefCon security conference in Las Vegas where a Tesla executive promoted their vulnerability reporting program, and recruited new employees.
Tesla reemphasized their policy of not taking legal action against security researchers who find vulnerabilities in their firmware as long as they agree to responsible disclosure policies. The disclosure policy includes explaining all aspects of the reported vulnerability, and acting in good faith by attempting to avoid privacy violations and the removal of data when possible.
We might not be ready for an interconnected world on all of our personal devices and vehicles, but it doesn't matter. That time is already here.