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Hackers Are Targeting EV Chargers for Fun and Profits, Prove It's the Weakest Link

EV chargers have been the target of criminals or just bad people, be it for ICE-ing, cord-cutting, and other questionable practices. Recently, the chargers got on hackers’ radar, too, who discovered they are easy to hack for profits or simply for fun.
Hackers are targeting EV chargers for fun and profits 6 photos
Hackers are targeting EV chargers for fun and profitsHackers are targeting EV chargers for fun and profitsHackers are targeting EV chargers for fun and profitsHackers are targeting EV chargers for fun and profitsHackers are targeting EV chargers for fun and profits
Electric vehicles have always stirred the worst in some people, who harassed EV owners for years. There is no logical explanation, but we’ve seen coal-rolling and so-called ICE-ing menacing EV owners around the world. The situation was so bad in China that Tesla decided to deploy remote-controlled floor blocking devices to prevent other drivers from blocking the Supercharger stations.

More serious incidents were reported lately, with charging stations being vandalized, the cables cut and the charging poles being rendered useless. And now, the hackers entered the scene, after discovering that EV chargers suffer from poor security, which makes them enticing targets. Sometimes they do it for fun, as happened in the case of three charging points on the Isle of Wight in England. The hackers compromised the chargers to display pornography on their screens.

It turns out that not having a graphical display does not help either. In a recent incident, hackers disabled the charging stations along a major highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia and displayed vulgar insults directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although this makes sense, this also opens the way to more serious criminal activities.

Hackers’ attacks on charging stations are on the rise, says Yoav Levy, CEO of Upstream Security, an Israeli provider of automotive cybersecurity platforms. Hackers can make easy money from hacking the chargers, either by locking users out of the chargers or by using the chargers free of charge. The latter was already used to make gas pumps dispense fuel for free earlier this year.

We're already starting to see the first hacks, and I'm sure there are plenty of cases that have happened that haven't been published,” Levy told Automotive News. “Cybercriminals can make money off of this now. They want to make money in the easiest way they can. If they [...] can find ways to hack remotely, this is how they can build scale.”

Levy thinks the hackers will turn against the companies operating large EV fleet charging centers, asking for money to unlock the chargers. But the attacks can also prove more destructive because the chargers can be used as an entry point into the grid. This is a security problem, as the charging networks are poised to expand across the U.S. and the world. For that, automakers and charging providers need to develop secure protocols and secure connections between the chargers and the vehicles.


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