Electric car owners warned of hackers targeting charging points

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A leading cybersecurity organisation is warning drivers they could be at risk as electric vehicle charging point protection is overlooked. It argues that while automotive companies are ramping up production of new electric vehicles, the industry is not doing enough to deal with cybersecurity concerns.

When users charge their vehicles, there is also a data connection between the vehicle and the EV hub. 

Charging stations are connected to the internet and, like any other Internet of Things (IoT) device, are vulnerable to the actions of cybercriminals.

Check Point Software Technologies warn that if a threat actor can gain access to a charging hub this could have serious consequences.

Theoretically, via an EV charging point, a hacker could access a vehicle’s engine management system and either compromise safety, performance or disable the vehicle altogether.

It warns that this could be an even more pressing issue if the vehicle in question was an ambulance or police car, where delays could pose a threat to life.

Check Point Research recently reported a 59 percent global increase in ransomware attacks alone.

This comes as data shows the UK’s transportation industry experienced an average of 979 cyberattacks a week over the last six months. 

As a result, Check Point estimate that it won’t be long until the potential to exploit EV charging stations is noted, so it is pivotal that newer, greener technologies are protected. 

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Muhammad Yahya Patel, Security Engineer at Check Point, said: “Climate change and the need to reduce our dependence on oil underline the imperative to migrate to greener forms of transportation. 

“Concerns over cybersecurity could be another obstacle to the future growth of the electric vehicle market, so it’s vital that the industry takes the threat seriously. 

“Unsecured charging devices are an open door to increasingly sophisticated threat actors and yet there are proven infrastructure security solutions out there that could prevent such attacks and further encourage the development of sustainable travel.”

He also warned that hackers could knock out an entire network of charging hubs by taking advantage of just one vulnerability in one device.

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This could result in loss of revenue for the operator as well as untold disruption to the road network.

Payment systems are also a massive target for criminals, as they could potentially compromise it and steal financial information from the driver or network operator.

In addition to shutting down a network of EV hubs, hackers could access the operator’s management software and drop ransomware with consequent financial and reputational damage. 

Also, many commercial fleets are converting to electric power and a hacker could disable an entire delivery operation just from their laptop.

At the end of September 2022, there were 34,860 electric vehicle charging points across the UK, across 20,888 charging locations. 

This represents a 35 percent increase in the number of charging devices since September 2021.

Last month, 1,126 new EV charging devices were added to the Zap-Map database.

These figures do not take into account charge points at workplaces or at homes, which are estimated to be more than 400,000.

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