Tesla has recently been gradually releasing new security features to make it more difficult for thieves to steal their vehicles.
Today, Tesla started rolling out a new update with a new optional ‘PIN to Drive’ feature and “improved cryptography” for its key fobs
The new feature is optional and adds a new layer of security for owners who don’t mind adding an extra step to be able to drive their Tesla.
According to the release notes for Model S and Model X, the new feature prompts a PIN to be entered on the center screen before enabling the capacity to drive the vehicle.
In order to activate the feature, owners have to go in ‘Controls > Safety and Security > PIN to Drive’.
Tesla also wrote in the release notes:
“We additionally added support for improved cryptography in our key fobs for Model S to guard against other attacks.”
The updates and new feature come after a string of Tesla vehicle thefts through relay attacks in Europe.
Tesla’s vehicles get rarely stolen thanks to its always-on advanced GPS tracking feature. We recently learned that stolen Tesla vehicles in the US have almost all been recovered: 112 out of 115.
But some more sophisticated thieves, especially in Europe, are still able to get away with it due to those relay attacks on key fobs.
It’s not a particular weakness of Tesla vehicles and any vehicle with a key fob and keyless/passive entry is subject to it, but Tesla is making it increasingly more difficult for those attacks to work through those recent updates.
Recently, the company shared ‘tips’ to help prevent them, which include disabling Passive Entry (Controls > Settings > Doors & Locks > Passive Entry > OFF).
But if you want to keep the convenience of passive entry, you can also store your key fob in some very simple signal blocking pouch when you are not using it.
On top of it, owners will now have the option to use this new ‘PIN to Drive’, which adds another layer of security.
Tesla says that it is beginning to roll out the update this week. The latest version is 2018.32.2. The company is currently having some network issues with the fleet internet network being down for hours on Wednesday.
Update: Even though it mainly aims to protect against relay attacks on key fobs with passive entry, the automaker told Electrek that it also plans to bring the new PIN to Drive feature to Model 3.
Tesla says that Model X key fobs are less subject to those attacks since they already had “robust cryptography” and Model S vehicles since June 2018 also come with the same key fobs.
On top of the new security features, Tesla says that customers with older Model S key fobs can contact Tesla’s service department to upgrade their key fob.