If you own a Tesla, stopping Tesla Thieves will be a high priority on you list of “to do” things. Although Tesla vehicles are generally one of the more secure vehicles on the market, their construction utilises a collection of valuable electronic components. Want the parts to make a 100kW Power Wall? A box of Tesla parts makes an ideal starting point.
Tesla vehicles, just like those ICE cars have some common security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are known about across the auto industry and thieves alike. Car thieves are no longer unskilled scum, there are skilled at their “craft”, they plan, and they steal to order. Your car can really be gone in 60 seconds, probably less.
To stop them we need to understanding the techniques thieves deploy and how to use the unique security updates Tesla vehicle receive. Doing so will not only help protect your pride and joy, but also help keep insurance premiums in check.
It is important to understand that the best practices involve “layers”. These layers when built up can secure the asset. Breaking security down in to layers we can plug the holes more effectively. So lets look at the layers that come as standard on your Tesla.
Sentry Mode – The Front Line
Sentry Mode is your first time of Defence, ensuring sentry mode is active when your vehicle is parked is essential, but it’s technically useless at catching criminal unless you record the footage. Tesla makes it easy to do this via usb. Most owners use USB sticks or thumb drives, but this is a mistake as they burn out eventually with the constant re-writes, We firmly believe the solid state drives are far more effective, you can check some of them out here on EV Accessories. You buy a “drive” and an “enclosure”and you then just need to format it to the current Tesla specification, then its plug and play.
Sentry Mode will sound if someone gets up close and personal with your Tesla, however, it’s not without its flaws. It will sound the alarm, but it wont stop the car disappearing if no one is around to hear the alarm.
Passive Entry Off – Secondary Defence
Passive entry is a convenience feature, it literally saves you pressing a button as you approach your car, but it is also your cars weakest point. Modern car thieves love passive entry, they deploy what is known as “The Key Relay” to gain entry to cars without triggering the alarm.
Passive Entry type features are a dream come true for thief’s. Basically they scan your car and home, often while you sleep for the long wave Radio Signals constantly being broadcast by most car to wake the keys. Once they picked up and amplifying the radio signals emitted from the car and key they simply re-transmit it to key unlock signal to your car.
Once retransmitted, the thief can “activate” your key from a considerable distance and cause it to send the “unlock” and “drive” signals from your house, pocket or handbag, just as if you’d pressed the button on the key yourself. The signal from the keys to the car can have a range of up to 100 meters!
The solution is simply, switch off the Passive Entry on the touchscreen. This is a 100% fix for this issue, but it’s not a 100% fix for every theft technique.
Partial Solution: Faraday Cage bag. This solution works well enough, but it has a couple of significant flaws:· It relies on a human action to put the key in the bag – humans forget – the day you forget will be the day you lose your car.· It’s not a great solution for the away from home “relay attack” as you walk into the supermarket the thief relays your key’s radio signal to his friend standing next to your car. However, We would recommend the Faraday Cage bag as an additional precaution as well as switching off passive entry as it helps prevent copying of the passive RFID tag (used when the key battery is flat) buried within the key’s technology. EV Accessories sells Defender Signal Blockers, which are “secured by Design” which is a UK Police security standard scheme. These are ideal for all cars with passive entry, especially if those other makes of car do not allow you to turn off these convenience features.
Most importantly, remember the spare keys too. Most importantly, keep testing the bags as they will wear out over time as the they use a special fabric that can become damaged or worn, carrying the faraday cage bags in your pocket is not recommended and will cause excessive wear on them as they get squashed.
To date there is only one manufacturer that we know of that offers a secure “Passive Entry” solution. The latest models of the Jaguar E-PACE, I-PACE, Range Rover, and Land Rover Discovery models use a new technology called UWB (Ultra-Wide-Band). This stops relay attacks dead.
Pin To Drive – The Final Defence.
By now if the alarm and hasn’t scared them off and passive entry has been bypassed by a relay attack, Pin to Drive is your final defence. Enabling Pin To Drive is the layer that is going to stop the car being driven, without the Pin the car is just a bunch of components and stuff you leave inside the vehicle. Pin to Drive isn’t new in cars, Peugeot used in in the 206 and 306 some years ago. However that used a physical keypad with wiring, Tesla uses a software system with a screen as the pad. However pin to drive is not without it’s flaws, it can still be by-passed but needs other credentials.
MyTesla Login Details
Have you realised your Tesla could be stolen without the need to trigger any of the above layers of protection? Every thief has a mobile phone, and can download the Tesla App. However they will need your Tesla Credentials that you use to Login to your MyTesla Account.
The Easy Solution: Keep your password secret, don’t download hundreds of non official Tesla apps to control your cars features, each time you do, you are opening yourself up to a hacker gaining that info and selling it on to thieves.
Use a very secure “My Tesla” password. To do this create long passwords with upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters and remember to treat it like your bank account password. Above all don’t log in to your account via any public Wi-Fi networks. These are the ones in most public spaces and fake Wi-Fi access points can be present in public places, they can steal your credentials, switch your wifi off and use your mobile phone providers data package.
Don’t let others know of your password, on your mobile devices enable “Touch ID” or “Face ID” if you have it and set your phone/device to lock immediately after use. Only use trusted third-party “Password Manager” software solution, change passwords regularly, just in case of an unknown third-party security breach. Most importantly, don’t use the same password over and other. Until Tesla bring in 2 factor authentication, this is all you have to prevent credential theft.
The Belt and Braces Approach.
A tracker type unit with a recovery service can help recover your vehicle in the event of it being stolen. This also offers a slight hope that the police will catch the thieves red handed, but let’s face it, the police don’t really investigate car crime. You get your crime number and that’s about it. There is also the question of “Do you really want your car back after it’s been driven like to within an inch of its performance limits. Then there is the insurance discount, you spend hundreds on a tracker and its subscription to get a few quid off your premium, tells you more about what the insurance companies think of them.
There are other things you can do to protect your car(s) when at home, such as CCTV, leaving it plugged in, flood lights, anything visual that will deter thieves. These can also protect your house and family. Check out products from Ring on Amazon or Argos. They are easy to install and allow monitoring and recording. But they too have weaknesses, so go hard CCTV if possible, wifi can be jammed, but thats another for another Blog.
Above all, you know how to get in your car, so does a thief.