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Contest offers up a free Tesla and nearly $1 million to anyone who can hack a Tesla Model 3

Published Jan 12th, 2020 1:05PM EST
Tesla Security
Image: TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

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A few years ago, a Korean researcher named Jung Hoon Lee carried out a Google Chrome exploit at the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition and walked away with $110,000 for just a few minutes worth of work. At the time, the prize was the biggest in the competition’s history.

Flash forward a few years and the stakes have increased drastically. With a Pwn2Own competition slated to begin in March in Vancouver, enterprising hackers and security researchers have the opportunity to walk away with a free Tesla Model 3 and nearly a million dollars. The challenge? Completely compromise a Tesla Model 3.

The Zero Day Initiative’s press release on the challenge reads:

Tesla vehicles are equipped with multiple layers of security, and this time around, there are three different tiers of awards within the Automotive category that correspond to some of the different layers of security within a Tesla car, with additional prize options available in certain instances.

Tier 1 earns the top prizes and represents a complete vehicle compromise. Correspondingly, this also has the highest award amounts. To win this level, a contestant will need to pivot through multiple systems in the car, meaning they will need a complex exploit chain to get arbitrary code execution on three different sub-systems in the vehicle.

Successfully conquering the Tier 1 portion of the challenge yields a Model 3 and $500,000 in cold hard cash.

The payout, however, can be bumped up to $950,000 if contestants are also able to figure out a few peripheral hacking challenges involving the Model 3. The prize money up for grabs, if someone manages to claim it, would easily mark the highest payout in competition history.

That Tesla would be part of such a challenge isn’t all that surprising given the company’s participation in the Pwn2Own hacking contest last year. A full rundown of the rules involved with the Model 3 challenge can be viewed over here.

Pwn2Own 2020 is set to run from March 18-20.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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