Despite several high-profile automotive projects, we rarely get the inside scoop from Tesla. What stops a leaker? Tesla CEO Elon Musk has the answer. He hinted at how the Texas-based electric car maker is watermarking internal information to deter would-be leakers. While he revealed only one hack, there are many other methods used by car companies to prevent information leaks.
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Elon Musk revealed on Twitter how Tesla caught leakers in 2008 by digitally watermarking emails. He wrote in reply to a Twitter user that in order to catch the leaker, his company sent the same email to all employees, but each email actually added a space or two between sentences. The emails are sent using a unique binary signature, which helps the automaker identify leakers. “It’s a very interesting story. We sent everyone what appeared to be identical emails, but each email was actually encoded with a space or two between sentences, forming a binary to identify the leaker. Signed,” he wrote. Musk also wrote that sending digitally watermarked messages was his idea for email.
In another instance, Musk found a whistleblower by reposting a document. Once he reprinted a particular file, he went back through the printer logs to find a similarly sized file that had been printed before, which led him to the leaker. Interestingly, these are one of several tactics Tesla’s CEO has employed to prevent the company’s information from being leaked. An article on The Intercept delves into how Musk and his company employ different types of methods to track down leakers.
Tesla, or any other company led by Elon Musk, is not alone in making digital watermarking a routine practice to prevent information leaks. But how aggressively Musk and his company follow these practices has made them one of the most secretive automotive OEMs in the world.
First published date: December 19, 2022 at 10:05 AM CST