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Is it possible to hack the software to unlock battery, autopilot, etc.?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by TesTaipei, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. TesTaipei

    TesTaipei Tesla Ambassador to Taiwan!

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    Disclaimer: not suggesting in any way one should do this illegally.

    But I am curious. What is keeping skilled folks from hacking to unlock all the software limited capabilities? My guess is the connectivity and ota upgrades make it harder, but it would seem possible to fake around this.

    Most of the posts and articles I've seen about this is either about hacking to gain control of the vehicle or to play / understand better what's on tesla.

    So just asking here out of curiosity.
     
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  2. xborg

    xborg Member

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    Yes, but voids your warranty.
     
  3. AB4EJ

    AB4EJ Member

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    I don't know for sure what Tesla has done to prevent this, but there are a number of software and hardware tools that can be employed to prevent the customer doing what you have suggested. Here is one of them:

    - Implement the list of enabled options as a hashed (encrypted) list, with a verification key. Each time to computer starts, it checks the hash against the key. As soon as you enable another (unauthorized) option, it changes the hash,and this will not match the key. You need the master keys to create the verification key, so you can' easily defeat that. The software that checks the key will be obfuscated so that it is essentially impossible to find it and override it.

    - Store the security code in the boot area encrypted, and have it self-decrypt during boot; this prevents the user from changing the code in firmware.

    These are just a couple of possible ways.

    So while it may not be totally impossible to do this, it is quite difficult.

    The idea with a lot of things like this to make it so expensive to defeat the protection that it is just cheaper to simply buy the option that you are looking to have.
     
  4. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    Yes it's quite possible. But not easy. There are several people who have root access, and they have confirmed that all software limited features can in fact be unlocked by that method.

    Now of course the "catch" is that root access is quite difficult to come by.
     
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  5. apacheguy

    apacheguy S Sig #255

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    There's another catch. Tesla will find out as soon as you change your vehicle config. Meaning you would have to disable the VPN and then risk your car being blacklisted at superchargers. Also, forget about bringing your car in for service.
     
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  6. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    They'd find out, but what could they DO? you own the car.
    As for blacklisting at superchargers, show me where in any agreement we signed supercharger access was contingent to not setting options in software on our cars? It should also be noted that the superchargers don't currently authenticate the cars at all. Supercharger access is another setting on the car itself, if you can enable other settings, you can re-enable that one too.
    As for service. No reason to suspect you couldn't have it serviced either, you'd likely have to reset some things after, but if you could set them once you can set them again.
     
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  7. apacheguy

    apacheguy S Sig #255

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    They might not be able to change your config, but they could easily disable the mobile app. They can also fairly easily add VIN auth at superchargers. Also, they would refuse to service it. I guarantee that.
     
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  8. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    Show me where in any agreement we signed mobile access was contingent to not setting options in software on our cars? Regardless of the fact that if you had root access, you wouldn't need their mobile access, you could easily roll your own.
    As for "guaranteeing" they'd refuse to service it. I can equally "guarantee" that they'd still legally have to honour your warranty, which involves service. and if you bought the service plan, they'd also have to legally abide by that, as neither one says you can't set options on the car (and if the warranty did say so, it would be in contravention of warranty law in almost all jurisdictions)
     
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  9. apacheguy

    apacheguy S Sig #255

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    Tesla could sue you for theft. You cannot enable options you did not pay for.
     
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  10. jeffro01

    jeffro01 Active Member

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    ^^^This...

    I know some of you think that because you own the car you own the software, the reality is you don't.

    Jeff
     
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  11. Canuck

    Canuck Well-Known Member

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    That argument was made by people who bought satellite receivers. The Courts have answered it and there's no doubt about it: it's theft regardless of the fact that you own the equipment. People do more time in jail for these types of crimes than killing someone (a bit of an exaggeration but not much). Corporations lobby hard to protect their interests and even sue civilly in addition to pressing the State/Crown to press criminal charges. The civil judgements alone have bankrupted people.

    It's not an area worth exploring, even if you have no ethics or morals. But it is a good question to raise and an interesting discussion.
     
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  12. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    In the satellite world it's "theft of service" which is different from "theft" from a legal perspective. And notably, those who did it on imported receivers were deemed NOT to be in violation of any law, only those who had agreements with their local satellite company and then unlocked more than they were paying for were deemed to be in violation of the law.

    In the Tesla situation there is no relevant contract with Tesla (unlike the satellite situation), "theft of service" doesn't apply as it is purely about telecommunications services, and the situation does not fit the legal definition of "theft" (which requires depriving someone else of their property)

    From a moral, and legal, stand point this is very much not cut and dried. Tesla is trusting that they can give you a closed box, and hope you won't look inside, and most people won't. But I am not aware of any law that preserves that in this situation as Tesla did not ask anyone to sign any agreement stating they wouldn't look in the box.

    If you order 12 doughnuts, and there are 13 in the box, is it wrong, legally, or morally, to eat the 13th one? You asked for 12, paid for 12, and they happened to include a 13th. They never told you not to eat it, but they also never said you could. It's a grey area. Tesla is doing this, and asking you to pay extra to eat the 13th one, but it's already in your possession. I don't think it's as simple a question, morally or legally, as some people want you to believe.
     
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  13. Canuck

    Canuck Well-Known Member

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    You do know that just by using caps for NO doesn't make it true? Here's the link to the case. From the Supreme Court of Canada. There is no higher authority so you can have no rebuttal to this. It says exactly the opposite of what you say above. In fact, we can't have subscriptions to directv or dishnetwork in Canada yet unlocking their programming is illegal in Canada:

    Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex - SCC Cases (Lexum)

    It's called intellectual property -- not "theft of service". Putting something in quotes, like using ALL CAPS, means nothing.

    Tesla has intellectual property rights. If you hack those to unlock to a larger battery, SC use, etc. you are committing theft. That's the law.

    If you have ANY case-law that says anything else, I'm all ears. Please just don't give me donuts in a box.
     
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  14. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    #14 green1, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
    You do know that by putting links in your comment doesn't make them relevant?

    You might not have read your content, but it explicitly applies only to broadcast communications, and only to ones that are encrypted, which somehow don't seem to apply to unlocking unencrypted firmware in a car.

    If you have case law that's RELEVANT to this case, please post it. keeping in mind that Tesla has not maintained ANY rights to the product that they sold, and that tinkering with software on cars is explicitly legal in many jurisdictions.
     
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  15. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    If I don't own the software, why did Tesla sell it to me without any license agreement? The fact is, that I DO own everything parked out there, and can modify it to my heart's content. The only time that would not be the case is if I agreed to a license agreement before taking possession, something that I did not do.
     
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  16. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    When asking a question of that nature in an online forum with participants from around the world, it would be helpful if you specified which country you want to focus on. You are in Taiwan. Do you want an answer to your question based on the law in Taiwan and the Tesla purchase agreement terms for that country (of course Tesla isn't selling in Taiwan yet, as you know) or do you want an answer based on some other country?

    @Canuck has clearly answered your question based on Canadian law. I cannot answer your question based on American law, I am not a lawyer and have no expertise to bring to the discussion.
     
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  17. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    Not in the least, as he quoted Canadian law relating to decrypting encrypted foreign satellite signals. not in relation to modifying a car.
     
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  18. Canuck

    Canuck Well-Known Member

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    #17 Canuck, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
    Remember when you said this:

    That was true also, right? I gave you a case that didn't apply, correct?

    Of course, any case can be distinguished on the facts and the law but if you actually read and digest the case I gave you, you will understand why you are wrong.

    Also, if you read and understand this, you will understand where you have gone wrong.

    In any event, there's just no convincing you. But there's no issue at all that it's theft -- you can believe whatever you want to believe. I think it will likely take someone being charged and convicted for unlocking their battery on a Tesla to convince you anyway, and then you'll probably give me some reason why that doesn't even apply.

    From the link above:

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself.

    We have similar laws in Canada as do most common-law jurisdictions.
     
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  19. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    #18 green1, Oct 25, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
    Correct, the case you gave did not apply. I said it was legal to modify a grey market receiver to receive content. It is. You are the one who immediately jumped to that meaning encrypted content, which I never specified.

    And if you read This You would know where YOU have gone wrong.

    On the contrary, you would find I'm easily convinced by relevant facts. You've just presented none.

    You do know that the legal definition of theft requires depriving someone of an item right?

    That would definitely convince me. But until you can come up with some conceivable law under which they could be charged, I find it highly unlikely they'd succeed.

    From the link above, from the librarian of congress in the USA detailing exemptions to the DMCA
     
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  20. hmmm

    hmmm Member

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    Wow, and I was under the impression that our Canadian friends were almost too nice and too friendly at times....

    Grabbing my refill of popcorn. Carry on. :)
     
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  21. Canuck

    Canuck Well-Known Member

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    The only signals not encrypted, and received on a satellite receiver, are the free preview channels. I didn't jump anywhere because the case itself says this:

    The respondents facilitate what is generally referred to as “grey marketing” of foreign broadcast signals. Although there is much debate -- indeed rhetoric -- about the term, it is not necessary to enter that discussion in these reasons.

    Grey market is having a US subscription in Canada. There is much debate about that, as the Supreme Court of Canada says but it's not illegal. If you want to pay Tesla US, rather than Tesla Canada, to unlock your battery, go for it. That's grey market -- especially if Tesla couldn't sell here but we had a Canadian equivalent. There's no such thing as:

    That makes no sense. Once you "modify" you are BLACK market -- not grey!

    I know many people who have Directv in Canada and pay for it through a US address. That's very different than opening up their receiver and modifying it to get the programming. That's clearly not criminal to pay for your programming -- opening up your receiver and modifying it is criminal.

    You really need to understand the basic issues and what they mean before you debate so categorically.

    There's exceptions to every rule. Still, I'd be pleased to sit down with @green1 and have a beer and discuss this and other issues with him. None of this is personal. I like a good debate.
     

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