19-year-old hacker says he can remotely control Teslas


He claims to be able to remotely control 25 Teslas: A German security researcher has found a critical gap in electric cars. But he also says it’s not Tesla’s fault.

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A 19-year-old German says he can remotely control Teslas.


According to the security researcher, he had access to over 25 cars in 13 countries.

According to the security researcher, he had access to over 25 cars in 13 countries.


Among other things, he could operate the entertainment system or honk the horn.

Among other things, he could operate the entertainment system or honk the horn.


  • David Colombo is a security researcher from Dinkelsbühl in Germany’s Middle Franconia.

  • From there, the 19-year-old can use his PC to remotely control Teslas in 13 countries.

  • This is made possible by a security hole that he discovered, as he says on Twitter.

“It was crazy when I discovered that,” says 19-year-old David Colombo to the IT portal ISMG. The German security researcher claims to have discovered a critical gap that makes it possible to remotely control Teslas. “I could see owners going shopping or driving to work, and I knew I would be able to control certain aspects of their vehicles,” says Colombo.

According to the information provided by the security researcher, he is able to query the location of the vehicles. He can also deactivate the so-called sentry mode, a surveillance mode that is part of Tesla’s security system with motion sensors and cameras. He can also see whether someone is sitting in the vehicle, honk, open the doors and manipulate the entertainment system. According to Colombo, however, it is not possible to control the steering, acceleration or braking.

“It’s not Tesla’s fault”

According to a tweet from Colombo, he had access to more than 25 Teslas in 13 countries. He could not inform the affected owners of the cars because he could not find out the names. In one instance, however, he saw a name given to the car: “Red Dwarf.”

As Colombo emphasizes, it is not Tesla’s fault that he can control the cars remotely. “It’s not a vulnerability in Tesla’s infrastructure. It’s a mistake by the owners,” he said on Twitter. However, he is in contact with the Tesla security team. The German therefore deliberately does not disclose the exact details of the security gap. But he says only a small number of people are affected.

engine stalled

It is not surprising that newer cars are susceptible to such attacks. After all, today’s modern vehicles are practically rolling computers. A vivid example of this came in 2015, among others. Back then, two safety researchers remotely stalled the engine of a Jeep Cherokee at full speed on the freeway after activating the windshield wipers and turning up the car radio, without the informed journalist who sat in the car, could turn it off. Automaker Chrysler recalled 1.4 million cars in the US after the hack.

Vehicles sold in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region were not affected by this type of attack, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles told 20Minuten at the time. The integrated cellular module used in the attack was not installed in vehicles sold outside the United States.

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