Electric Vehicle Chargers Can be Used To Hack Your EV

Rising security risks for electric vehicle chargers getting hacked

Do you remember reading about public handphone chargers (in airports, high end coffee shops and hotels) being used to hack individuals smartphones while being charged?

Well, the same hacking tools and now being used to hack into your electric car and the reasons are for theft and also creating chaos.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV charging 

Last year, global sales for electric vehicles (EVs) increased by 60% worldwide and one in every seven passenger cars purchased globally was an EV. In contrast, just five years earlier, only one in every 70 cars bought was an electric vehicle.

Consumer demand for EVs is at an all-time high, but the growth of this sector may mean unprecedented security challenges.

EV DC Charging at home

The industry is in the midst of a rapid expansion phase. New EV charging stations are popping up in parking lots and on street corners the world over. However, the new installations could prompt cyber attackers to target EV charging networks, the vehicles themselves, and/or the connected power grids.

EV charger risk

For many connected devices, the race-to-market has translated to cyber security measures that were ‘bolted on,’ but not ‘built in’. In other words, cyber security was largely an afterthought. In the case of electric vehicle chargers, that’s a particularly unsettling prospect, as EV chargers are interlinked with other infrastructure.

Electric Vehicle charging Shell

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has commented on the enormity of the cyber safety concern pertaining to electric vehicle charging stations:

“EVSE [Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment] is supported by electronics, both for charging the vehicle and facilitating communications, so EVSE is susceptible to cyber security vulnerabilities and attacks.

EVSE also ties together two critical sectors, which is transportation and energy (specifically, the grid) that have never been connected electronically before.

5 minute EV charging cable

This creates the potential for attacks that could have significant impacts in terms of money, business disruptions and human safety.”

Real-world examples

Cyber attacks that exploit electric vehicle chargers weaknesses may be able to cause power fluctuations and power outages, as attacks would suddenly alter the demands of EV charging networks.

EV Chargers
Alternatively, might a cyber attack completely disable EV charging infrastructure, stranding drivers? This would be similar to cutting off the fuel supply, which almost occurred on the East Coast of the U.S, during the Colonial Pipeline attack.

The examples above represent just a handful of the ugly scenarios that cyber security and electric vehicle supply equipment researchers have written about.

A few researchers have already come across vulnerabilities that could allow cyber criminals to remotely shut down electric vehicle chargers to steal electricity.

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