Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Tesla will give security researchers who expose flaws in the Model 3 a free car.
  • Like many tech companies, the automaker offers cash rewards for vulnerabilities found in its software.
  • Tesla was the only carmaker to participate in a cybersecurity conference in Vancouver, which added an automotive category for the first time this year.

Tesla is upping its "bug bounty" in a big way by offering a free Model 3 car to any cybersecurity researcher who can hack the car's computer system.

The increased reward was announced at a competition sponsored by Trend Micro, called Pwn2Own. Tesla is the only carmaker that participated in the event, which focuses on finding flaws in internet browsers and enterprise software programs. It's the first time an automotive category has been featured.

"We develop our cars with the highest standards of safety in every respect, and our work with the security research community is invaluable to us," David Lau, Tesla's vice president of vehicle software, said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.

Tesla's bug bounty program was launched in 2014, and generally has rewards ranging from around R350 to R14,000. More recently, prizes have ballooned as high as R200,000 depending on what's found.

According to the blog Teslarati, the bug bounty program has already been responsible for a number of fixes, including a vulnerability found by Chinese software company Keen that could have allowed an outsider to remotely activate a vehicle's brakes.

Keen's security lab has made Tesla's "security researcher hall of fame" in 2016 and 2017, according to the company's website.

"Since launching our bug bounty program in 2014 - the first to include a connected consumer vehicle - we have continuously increased our investments into partnerships with security researchers to ensure that all Tesla owners constantly benefit from the brightest minds in the community," continued Tesla's Lau, per the blog Electrek.

"We look forward to learning about, and rewarding, great work in Pwn2Own so that we can continue to improve our products and our approach to designing inherently secure systems."

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