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Tesla Hacking Contest Features $10,000 Prize

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2014 Tesla Model S

2014 Tesla Model S

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Think you have what it takes to hack into a Tesla Model S electric car? If you're attending the SyScan conference in Beijing next week, then you'll be eligible to have a go—and there's a $10,000 prize in it for the winner.

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As Forbes reports, the conference will have a Tesla Model S and some computers on-site, and while rules aren't forthcoming, the conference organizers say the hacking could take various forms. People able to crack into the car could do something as simple as bring up websites on the car's central touchscreen—pointing the way to software that could infect the system. Or they could go the whole hog and control the car itself from a computer—turning it on, flashing the lights, perhaps even driving it.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] itself isn't involved in the competition, nor is it officially supporting it. Individual owners have already managed to hack into their cars, one receiving a stern warning from Tesla when they did so. But if members at the SyScan conference do manage to crack the car's code, Tesla could stand to benefit anyway—just as computer firms rely on code-breakers to test the security of their systems, so too will any cracks in Tesla's armor allow the firm to fix them before a more serious hacking attempt. Tesla already employs ex-Apple security expert Kristin Paget to improve its digital safety, and has a full vulnerability disclosure program, making it easy to report flaws in its cars.

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Any lessons learned at SyScan should help both Tesla and other automotive firms to boost the security of their cars. That's something which will become ever-more important as more vehicles become connected to the internet. The SyScan conference takes place 16-17 July.

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