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Tesla Model S vulnerable to theft via key fob clone hack

by Justin King

Vehicles sold after June use more secure encryption, while older vehicles can be connected via a PIN code.

A team of security researchers has confirmed that the Tesla Model S key fob is vulnerable to an increasingly common form of clone hack that can be used to steal vehicles.

Researchers from Belgium's KU Leuven used around $600 in equipment to remotely read wireless signals from a Model S fob and calculate the system's cryptographic key.

"Today it's very easy for us to clone these key fobs in a matter of seconds," said KU Leuven's Lennert Wouters, as quoted by Wired. "We can completely impersonate the key fob and open and drive the vehicle."

Tesla has already addressed the issue by implementing more secure encryption for vehicles manufactured after June. For earlier vehicles, drivers can activate a PIN code to prevent thieves from driving away with vehicles.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center recently found that Tesla's vehicles have a much lower rate of theft than average vehicles and a nearly 100-percent recovery rate, thanks to GPS tracking.