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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

Ethical Hackers Make a Million at Pwn2Own Automotive

Ethical Hackers Make a Million at Pwn2Own Automotive
Husain Parvez Published on 28th January 2024 Cybersecurity Researcher

The first-ever Pwn2Own Automotive competition has concluded with hackers collectively earning a staggering $1,323,750 by exposing 49 zero-day vulnerabilities, primarily in Tesla vehicles.

Organized by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) during the Automotive World conference, the event in Tokyo showcased vulnerabilities in EV chargers, infotainment systems, and car operating systems.

Team Synacktiv stood out, securing $450,000 in cash. Their remarkable achievements included hacking a Tesla car twice and revealing vulnerabilities in the Ubiquiti Connect EV Station and the JuiceBox 40 Smart EV Charging Station. They also demonstrated their prowess by exploiting the Automotive Grade Linux OS.

The event highlighted the complex nature of modern vehicles, now seen as safety-critical computers on wheels. In a statement to DarkReading, Dustin Childs from ZDI emphasized the significance of the event, mentioning that there is a serious lack of research in this area, “and based on our experience, that lack of external scrutiny means there could be a lot of security issues."

The vulnerabilities discovered during the competition highlight the urgent need for enhanced security measures in the automotive industry. As vehicles become more technologically advanced, they also become more attractive targets for hackers.

Synacktiv CEO Renaud Feil, speaking about Tesla, said that the car has a huge attack surface since “everything is IT in a Tesla.” However, he also acknowledged that Tesla has a well-detailed security team, so although it is a large target, it’s certainly not an easy one.

As the dust settles on this year's event, the focus now shifts to how the automotive industry will respond to these revelations. Manufacturers are expected to closely examine the findings and work to address the vulnerabilities. ZDI has provided a 90-day window for manufacturers to fix the issues before they are publicly disclosed, offering ample motivation to reinforce their cybersecurity measures and protect their customers.

About the Author

Husain Parvez is a Cybersecurity Researcher and News Writer at vpnMentor, focusing on VPN reviews, detailed how-to guides, and hands-on tutorials. Husain is also a part of the vpnMentor Cybersecurity News bulletin and loves covering the latest events in cyberspace and data privacy.