An anonymous reader writes: "Nitesh Dhanjani has written a paper outlining the security mechanisms surrounding the Tesla Model S, as well as its shortcomings, titled 'Cursory Evaluation of the Tesla Model S: We Can't Protect Our Cars Like We Protect Our Workstations.' Dhanjani says users are required to set up an account secured by a six-character password when they order the car. This password is used to unlock a mobile phone app and to gain access to the user's online Tesla account. The freely available mobile app can locate and unlock the car remotely, as well as control and monitor other functions.
The password is vulnerable to several kinds of attacks similar to those used to gain access to a computer or online account. An attacker might guess the password via a Tesla website, which Dhanjani says does not restrict the number of incorrect login attempts. Dhanjani said there is also evidence that Tesla support staff can unlock cars remotely, leaving car owners vulnerable to attackers impersonating them, and raising questions about the apparent power of such employees to locate and unlock any car with or without the owner's knowledge or permission. In his paper, Dhanjani also describes the issue of Tesla's REST APIs being used by third parties without Tesla's permission, causing Tesla owners' credentials to be sent to those third parties, who could misuse the information to locate and unlock cars."