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Are Teslas Secure? How Hackers Can Attack Connected Cars

It seems like everything is connected to the internet these days, from kettles to doorbells. Even cars are increasingly manufactured with some degree of internet connectivity. But no cars are quite as internet-connected as Teslas.

In general, Teslas are very secure vehicles. However, whenever any kind of device is connected to the internet, even a car, it will introduce some security vulnerabilities. To show you the different ways in which security issues can affect connected cars, we’ll share some examples of how people have tried and sometimes succeeded at hacking Teslas.

Vulnerabilities in Tesla Key Fobs


Of all the ways that criminals use technology to hack or steal cars

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, one security aspect you might not consider is a key fob. Teslas have a keyless entry system. This uses a small device attached to a key ring which you carry on your person. When you approach your Tesla, it detects the key fob and unlocks the doors for you.

Cloning Attacks on Tesla Key Fobs

There have been security issues with Tesla key fobs. In 2018, researchers from the Belgium university KU Leuven announced they were able to copy a Tesla key fob.

They could wirelessly read signals from a nearby key fob, then clone a copy of it. That meant it was possible for hackers to stand near to Tesla owners and copy their keys without them knowing, then steal the car. Tesla swiftly fixed the issue with a new type of key fob which removed the vulnerability.

However, one year later in 2019, the same researchers discovered another security flaw in the new fobs. This time, the hacker had to be closer to the fob than previously and the attack took a little longer. But it could still be performed wirelessly without the target knowing.

Although Tesla had introduced more encryption in the new fobs, this was not enough to prevent the hack. The good news is that Tesla was able to patch this issue with a software update soon after news of the new hack broke.

Repeater Attacks on Tesla Key Fobs

It’s worth noting that as far as we’re aware, no one has ever used the cloning vulnerability to actually steal a Tesla. However, hackers can also perform other attacks on key fobs, such as a repeater attack.

Here, a hacker picks up the presence of a key fob from inside a Tesla owner’s house when their car is parked outside and amplifies it. This is the method that thieves likely used in a much-circulated video (above) purporting to show two people stealing a Tesla in the UK.

Hacking Tesla’s Autopilot Feature

One of the most scary ideas people have when they think about the security of internet-connected cars

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is what happens if a hacker takes control of a vehicle. Tesla’s Autopilot feature allows the car to perform some self-driving maneuvers such as cruising or changing lanes on the highway.

But in 2019, a group of Chinese hackers were able to manipulate the Autopilot feature. In a nightmare scenario for drivers, the hackers were able to take control and direct the car into oncoming traffic.

To perform the hack, the team used small, brightly colored stickers attached to the road surface. This created a “false lane” which the Tesla’s systems read as a real driving lane and followed. This all took place on a test track, but theoretically the same system could be used in the real world to direct a car into the oncoming traffic lane.

The trick here is that this hack requires changes to the outside environment around the car. It doesn’t actually target the car itself. Plus, drivers should still be attentive when using Autopilot and be ready to take control of the vehicle from the automated systems.

That means it’s not very likely to be a problem in most scenarios. Tesla thought so too, putting out a statement saying that the vulnerability was “not a realistic concern.”

Hacking a Tesla’s Entertainment System

Are Teslas Secure? How Hackers Can Attack Connected Cars tesla touchscreen

A less serious hack on Teslas was demonstrated by Team Fluoroacetate at the security event Pwn2Own in 2019. The team were able to use a bug in the car’s web browser to access the car’s firmware and run their own code. They were then able to show a message on the Tesla entertainment system.

This hack isn’t going to help anyone steal your car or cause a crash. However, it does show how any seemingly small part of a car’s software can be a security risk, even the web browser. Tesla says it is working on a software fix for this security issue.

Protecting Your Data When You Sell Your Tesla

Finally, there’s a security issue with Teslas which is not due to a vulnerability as such.

Instead, it’s due to the collection of data that you might not even think about. If you own a Tesla and later decide to sell it, you should be aware of the amount of data about you contained within the car. Just like when you sell an old PC, you should be sure to wipe the hard disk drive before passing it on to the buyer.

When you sell a connected car, you need to get rid of private data before handing it over to someone else.

In 2019 two security researchers purchased a wrecked Tesla Model 3. They were able to access the car’s computer and download all sorts of information about the previous owners. In the computer they found phonebooks with contacts’ numbers and email addresses, plus calendar entries. They were also able to see recent locations entered into the car’s navigation system. There was even video footage recorded by the vehicle’s cameras.

There is a way to delete personal information from a Tesla by performing a factory reset. This should be a reminder to Tesla owners that if their car is ever wrecked or sold, they should perform a factory reset before getting rid of the car. This will prevent anyone from accessing their data.

Connected Cars Come With Security Risks

Overall, cars today are safer than ever before. Teslas have security features which make crashes less likely and protect the people inside if they do occur. But it’s worth thinking about the ways that new technologies can create security risks.

To learn more about the risks of connected cars, see our article on terrifying scenarios that self-driving cars make possible

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7 Terrifying Scenarios Self-Driving Cars Make Possible

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Connected to Wi-Fi, But No Internet Access in Windows? Here’s the Fix!

You sit down to get some work done on your Windows computer, and that’s when you see it. The dreaded yellow triangle appears over your internet connection icon, annoyingly proclaiming that you have No Internet Access.

How do you fix this frustrating Windows error? Here are the steps you should follow to resolve this problem and get back online.

How to Fix “No Internet Access” Errors

Let’s quickly outline the steps to resolve “connected but no internet access” errors first. We’ll then go into detail on each one.

  1. Confirm other devices can’t connect
  2. Reboot your PC
  3. Reboot your modem and router
  4. Run the Windows network troubleshooter
  5. Check your IP address settings
  6. Check your ISP’s status
  7. Try a few command prompt commands
  8. Disable security software
  9. Update your wireless drivers
  10. Reset your network

What Does This Error Mean?

Before we proceed, we should explain what exactly happens on your network when you see this error. To do so, it’s necessary to explain some basics of home networking.

Wireless devices like a laptop connect to your router. The router is a device that handles the connections between the devices in your home. Your router plugs into a modem, a device that bridges the traffic on your home network and the internet.

When you see the Connected, no internet access, connected but no internet, or similar errors on your computer, it means that your computer is connected to the router correctly but can’t connect to the internet. Conversely, if you see Not connected, no internet or No internet connection messages, it means that your computer is not connected to a router at all.

This gives you some clues about what the issue is, as we’ll see below.

Step 1: Confirm Other Devices Can’t Connect

Before you do any troubleshooting, it’s important to determine whether your PC is the only device with with no internet connection. Grab your phone or another computer that’s connected to Wi-Fi and see if it’s online properly.

On Android, you’ll see an X icon over the Wi-Fi symbol and notice you’re connected to your mobile network for data. iPhone and iPad users can visit Settings > Wi-Fi and check for a No Internet Connection message.

No internet connection on iPhone

If your computer is the only machine that won’t connect, it’s likely due to a misconfigured setting on just that device. But if you have no internet on every device, the problem lies with your network equipment and you can thus skip some of the PC-only steps below.

Before you proceed, if the problem affects all your devices, you should perform a quick test. Disconnect the Ethernet cable that connects your modem to your router, and use it to connect your PC to the modem directly instead.

If you can get online with this setup, the problem lies with your router. Should you proceed through the following troubleshooting and not fix your issue, your router is likely faulty.

Step 2: Reboot Your PC

This step isn’t necessary if your connection issue is affecting multiple devices.

As with many issues, rebooting your computer is the first troubleshooting step you should try. If you’re lucky, you might clear up some temporary glitch by restarting and then can get back to work.

Most of this advice assumes you’re using a wireless connection. However, if you connect to your router with an Ethernet cable, you should also try another cable at this time to confirm that yours isn’t faulty.

Step 3: Reboot Your Modem and Router

Since most network issues involve your modem and/or router, rebooting them next makes sense. You don’t need to restart them through an interface like you do with your computer, though. Simply pull the power plug from both devices and leave them unplugged for a minute or two.

Plug the modem in first, let it boot up, then plug in your router again. Wait a few minutes for them to start back up. While you’re doing this, confirm that your router and modem are working properly. If you don’t see any lights on one of the devices, you may have a bad piece of hardware.

If your computer says “no internet” even after this, continue on—your issue is more complex than a basic reboot.

Note that you’re rebooting, not resetting your equipment. Resetting means putting the device back to its factory default settings; you don’t need to do that yet!

Step 4: Run the Windows Network Troubleshooter

This step isn’t necessary if your connection issue is affecting multiple devices.

If you’re only having an issue with your Windows PC, something is wrong with your computer’s network settings. While the built-in Windows troubleshooter usually doesn’t fix issues, it’s worth a try before you move on.

To access the network troubleshooter, visit Settings > Network & Internet > Status. Select Network troubleshooter and follow the steps to see if Windows can rectify the problem. On Windows 7, you’ll find this same tool at Start > Control Panel > Troubleshooting > Network and internet > Network Connections.

Windows 10 Network Troubleshooter

Step 5: Check Your IP Address Settings

This step isn’t necessary if your connection issue is affecting multiple devices.

Next, you should take one of the key steps to diagnose network issues

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: making sure your computer has a valid IP address. In most home networks, under normal circumstances, the router hands out an address to devices when they connect. If your computer’s IP settings aren’t correct, it can cause this “no internet access” problem.

On Windows 10, right-click on the network icon in your System Tray and choose Open Network & Internet settings. Click the Change adapter options entry and then double-click the connection you’re using.

Windows 10 change network adapter options

On Windows 7, right-click the network icon and choose Open Network and Sharing Center. Click the name of your network next to Connections.

Windows 7 change network adapter options

From here, click the Properties button. Find Internet Protocol Version 4 in the list and double-click that. Here, make sure you have Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically both selected. Setting an IP address manually is for advanced users; chances are if you have something entered here, it’s invalid.

Windows 10 change IP settings

Click OK and then try to get online again.

Step 6: Check Your ISP’s Status

At this point, if you can’t get any devices online, it’s worth checking if your internet service provider (ISP) is having an issue. Though this is rare, it could explain why you can’t get online.

Use your phone’s data connection to see if Comcast, Verizon, or whoever provides service in your area has reported outages. DownDetector is a great site for this. A quick Google or Twitter search can reveal whether others are having a problem, too.

DownDetector Outage map

Step 7: Try These Command Prompt Commands

This step isn’t necessary if your connection issue is affecting multiple devices.

Windows features several networking commands in the Command Prompt

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. You should attempt a few of them when you have no internet access in Windows 10. Type cmd into the Start Menu, then right-click on it and choose Run as administrator to open an elevated Command Prompt window.

To reset some of the files Windows keep to access the internet, use these two commands:

netsh winsock reset
netsh int ip reset

If that doesn’t work, try releasing your computer’s IP address and obtaining a fresh one with these two commands, one at a time:

ipconfig /release
ipconfig /renew

Finally, refresh your computer’s DNS settings with this command:

ipconfig /flushdns

It doesn’t hurt to reboot your PC again at this point. If you still have no internet access, there are a few more steps to try.

Step 8: Disable Security Software

This step isn’t necessary if your connection issue is affecting multiple devices.

Another uncommon, but plausible, scenario is that you have some security software on your PC preventing access to the internet. As reported by The Register, in 2017, Avast’s free antivirus prevented many of its users from getting online due to a glitch. Those who manually installed the latest update found that their problems disappeared.

Disable any third-party antivirus apps you may have installed and see if your connection comes back. While we’re on the topic of security, it’s worth running a malware scan with an app like Malwarebytes

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. A malicious program could have knocked out your internet connection.

Step 9: Update Your Wireless Drivers

This step isn’t necessary if your connection issue is affecting multiple devices.

Normally, you don’t need to update your computer drivers, as doing so often causes more problems than it’s worth. But since you’re still having an issue, you should check for driver updates.

If you have a manufacturer update app (like HP Support Assistant or Lenovo System Update) installed on your PC, open that up and check for wireless driver updates. Otherwise, follow our guide to updating your Windows drivers

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Step 10: Reset Your Network

At this point, if you’ve proceeded through all these steps and still have the “no internet access but connected” problem, there’s not much you can do other than reset your network settings.

If your Windows 10 PC is the only device you can’t connect with, you can reset your network by visiting Settings > Network & Internet > Status. Click the Network reset text at the bottom of the screen, then Reset now. This will completely remove all network adapters and set all your network settings back to the defaults. You’ll have to set everything up again, but it might be the fix you need.

Network reset Windows 10

While there’s unfortunately no equivalent of this in Windows 7, you can simulate part of this reset. Right-click on the network icon in your System Tray, choose Open Network and Sharing Center, and click Change adapter settings. Then right-click the adapter you’re using, and choose Disable. Reboot and re-enable it to see if that fixed anything.

Windows 7 disable network adapter

When you can’t get online with any devices, your best bet is resetting your router (and modem, if needed). Look for a small pinhole on the back or bottom of your router and hold it in for several seconds to reset it to factory defaults. If there’s no reset button, you’ll need to log in to your router and run the factory reset from there.

With everything reset, you can run through the initial setup with factory defaults. If it still won’t work after that, you likely have faulty equipment.

Don’t Fear “Connected But No Internet” Any Longer

Hopefully, you don’t have to factory reset anything to fix your connection issue. One of the earlier steps should take care of it, but there’s no perfect formula for network issues. If you follow all the steps, you’ve confirmed that your devices are set up correctly and you don’t have anything blocking the connection.

For a much more comprehensive guide, see our complete manual to Windows network troubleshooting

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. However, it might be worth contacting a network-savvy friend for further help.

Explore more about: Computer Networks, Drivers, IP Address, Network Issues, Router, Troubleshooting.

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