Tesla owners were locked out of their vehicles and the accompanying app for about an hour Wednesday morning, thanks to an outage that affected the company's entire network, according to several sources.
The Tesla outage was caused by an internal break of their application programming interface (or API), according to sources familiar with the outage.
There's a chance that the glitch could have something to do with the rollout of new two-factor authentication security features, which Tesla chief executive Elon Musk called "embarrassingly late," in an August tweet.
Sorry, this is embarrassingly late. Two factor authentication via sms or authenticator app is going through final validation right now.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 14, 2020
Two-factor authentication, which is also known as two-step verification, combines something you know, like a password, with something you have, like your phone. It allows the app to verify that the real account holder — or car owner — is logging in and not a hacker.
Some websites do this by sending you a code by text message. But hackers can intercept these. A more secure way of doing it is by sending a code through a phone app, often called an authenticator, which security experts prefer.
While Tesla's cars have had pin code entry since 2018, and they include GPS features that let owners track the vehicle, the lack of two-factor authentication has been an issue.
The Tesla app is a critical tool for owners, giving them control over numerous functions on their vehicles. Tesla owners have been calling out for the two-factor feature as an extra layer of security.
Glitches like these are not a great look for the automaker, which needs to convince an increasingly large consumer population that its electric vehicles are the ones to choose as more options emerge to challenge Tesla's dominance in the electric vehicle marketplace.
A slew of cars will be hitting the road in 2021 and 2022 to challenge Tesla across nearly each of its price points and locking out owners for an extended period of time is not a great way to convince would-be buyers to shell out money for Tesla cars.
Still, the company is moving forward with plans that could sway consumer sentiment -- specifically by working toward reducing the cost of its cars through battery innovations like the kind the company announced yesterday.
At the company's much ballyhooed battery press conference Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Drew Baglino, the SVP of powertrain and energy engineering at the company, laid out plans and progress to eventually have 10 to 20 terawatt hours of annual battery production. The eventual goal is to reduce batteries enough to be able to build and sell an electric vehicle for $25,000.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.