Tesla rolls out software fix to prevent key fob hack

Owners can update their key fob wirelessly from inside the car.

Tesla has begun rolling out a software patch that addresses a vulnerability with certain Model S key fobs.

Researchers last year discovered a flaw that could theoretically be used to clone a Tesla key fob in a few seconds without having physical access to the fob itself.

Tesla initially addressed the issue by replacing the vulnerable fobs, which is more of a headache than an over-the-air software update.

The same team of researchers from Belgian university KU Leuven have now uncovered another issue with the new fobs, which take twice as long to crack and require closer proximity to the key but can still be cloned in seconds.

Owners may appreciate that the latest bug can be addressed via software changes, allowing the car to wirelessly update the fob from inside the Model S in less than two minutes.

"I do think the way Tesla fixed it this time is pretty cool," said KU Leuven researcher Lennert Wouters told Wired. "That's something that I don't think any other car manufacturer has ever done before, or at least not publicly."

Tesla issued a statement saying it has not seen evidence that the particular vulnerabilities addressed by the fob updates have been used in any thefts.

"While nothing can prevent against all vehicle thefts, Tesla has deployed several security enhancements, such as PIN to Drive, that makes them much less likely to occur," the company added.

The issue involves only certain Model S vehicles. The Model 3, X and current-production S are not affected.

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