With Gas Prices at an All-Time High, Hackers Find Gas Pumps Are Easy Targets

As the fuel prices go higher and higher, so does people’s creativity in obtaining the precious liquid. Some thieves puncture the fuel tanks to extract the gas, while others turn to hacks to make the gas pumps dispense the fuel for free. The recent theft of 400 gallons of fuel at a High Point gas station in North Carolina proved just how vulnerable the gas pumps are to hacking.
Gas pumps are vulnerable to hackers who steal fuel 6 photos
Gas pumps are vulnerable to hackersGas pumps are vulnerable to hackersGas pumps are vulnerable to hackersThe shift management consoleThieves drill holes in the tank to steal fuel
Whenever the price of a certain product increases, people start looking for “ways” to lower it. Remember the catalytic converter theft that plagued the communities in the past years? It was triggered by the steep increase in prices for precious materials inside the catalytic converters. And it will only get worse with the war in Ukraine, as those materials will get even more expensive and hard to come by.

It turns out the catalyst converters are not the only thing on thieves’ radar right now. Fuel is more expensive and its value is high enough to justify the risks of stealing it. Some primitive methods involve drilling holes in the tanks to extract the precious fuel inside. Nevertheless, more resourceful gentlemen decided it is time to cut the middleman and go straight to the source.

A video surfaced last week showing a man stealing gas for himself and other vehicles at a gas station that was closed for the night. According to Police reports, the individual pointed a device at the gas pump to release the dispenser and filled up several vehicles. The theft was estimated at $1,600 or around 400 gallons of fuel.

According to a technician who spoke with Fox 8 in North Carolina, the device could’ve been a “special remote to alter the mechanics of the gas pump that puts it in ‘dispense mode,’ dispensing hundreds of gallons of gas for free.” He continued stating that “the reason dispensers have this option is so petroleum technicians, and NC Weight and Measures can test and calibrate dispensers.

This is not the first time such a technique has been deployed to steal gas. Four years ago, security analysts discovered many gas stations in the U.S. (more than 27% actually) are managed using a web interface that is easily accessible from the internet. With current gas prices, it is expected thieves will continue to exploit gas pumps vulnerabilities to get free fuel.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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