What’s wrong with automotive mobile apps?

What’s wrong with automotive mobile apps?


The recent story about the 19-year-old hacker who took control of several dozen Tesla cars has become something of a sensation. We already know that there was an issue with a third-party app that enabled access to data from Teslas. This made it possible for the security researcher to lock and unlock the cars, turn the lights on and off, and even enable keyless driving. All the functions in the native Tesla application became available due to a misconfiguration in third-party data logging software. So, let’s try to get a better understanding of what these apps are, why they appear on the market, and the risks they pose.

First public notice about the incident involving Tesla

The majority of modern vehicles are equipped with a special telematics module. The electronic control unit with a built-in SIM card provides the manufacturer with the vehicle’s location, warns the owner about upcoming vehicle inspections, and can even contact emergency services. In addition, the car owner gets some handy functions, such as the ability to check the vehicle’s location, control the door locks, remotely turn on climate control, and even automatically park the car. And all that by just using a mobile application.

Interface of a typical companion app

But why do people need a third-party app when all these functions are available in the car manufacturer’s application?

Native apps simply can’t satisfy the ..

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