Normally you don’t think about cars needing much ‘hacking’, but Tesla obviously thinks otherwise. The Palo Alto-based firm has just hired “hacker princess” Kristen Paget away from a small local company known as Apple.
So what does an electric car maker need with a hacker? According to Re/code neither Tesla nor Paget are saying. When Paget took to Twitter to announce the news, the most specific she would get was to say “Can’t say too much but ‘securing things’ is a fair bet :) [sic].”
It isn’t clear what this might mean in the context of a car, but Tesla has already been very forward thinking in its use of onboard software. In fact, Tesla’s first response to a fire that occurred while charging was to update the vehicle’s software. This has fit with the company’s image of Silicon Valley tech firm, rather than rust belt automaker.
It also happens to make sense. Cars are not only largely run by computers; they are now capable of maintaining almost constant connectivity, giving malware ample opportunities to spread. And let’s face it; if you own a car that has steering by wire, the last thing you want is for your car to crash.
As for Paget, she has a reputation as being a bit of a guru, having made the rounds of major technology companies. She started at Apple in September of 2012, but before that she worked for Microsoft … on Windows Vista.
I can only hope that her work for Tesla goes better, because the last thing that car needs is to be overloaded with malware and a reoccurring blue screen of death.
Given the nature of Paget’s work we aren’t likely to be told more details about what she will be working on. But it will be interesting to see if this marks a new trend in the crossover between tech companies and auto makers.