Researchers from France-based pen-testing firm Synacktiv demonstrated two separate exploits against the Tesla Model 3 this week at the Pwn2Own hacking contest in Vancouver. The attacks gave them deep access into subsystems controlling the vehicle's safety and other components.

One of the exploits involved executing what is known as a time-of-check-to-time-of-use (TOCTTOU) attack on Tesla's Gateway energy management system. They showed how they could then — among other things — open the front trunk or door of a Tesla Model 3 while the car was in motion. The less than two-minute attack fetched the researchers a new Tesla Model 3 and a cash reward of $100,000.

The Tesla vulnerabilities were among a total of 22 zero-day vulnerabilities that researchers from 10 countries uncovered during the first two days of the three-day Pwn2Own contest this week.

Gaining Deep Access to Tesla Subsystems

In the second hack, Synacktiv researchers exploited a heap overflow vulnerability and an out-of-bounds write error in a Bluetooth chipset to break into Tesla's infotainment system and, from there, gain root access to other subsystems. The exploit garnered the researchers an even bigger $250,000 bounty and Pwn2Own's first ever Tier 2 award — a designation the contest organizer reserves for particularly impactful vulnerabilities and exploits.

"The biggest vulnerability demonstrated this year was definitely the Tesla exploit," says Dustin Childs, head of threat awareness at Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), which organizes the annual contest. "They went from what's essentially an external component, the Bluetooth chipset, to systems deep within the vehicle."

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Tesla Model 3 Hacked in Less Than 2 Minutes at Pwn2Own Contest

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