Nov 2 – Around the world, governments are pushing for greener technologies in order to combat climate change and reduce reliance on hydrocarbons. Norway has built a network of 17,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points, while the US Department of Transportation recently announced a $5B plan to create a new network of EV charging stations. However, while automotive companies are ramping up production of new electric vehicles, the industry is not doing enough to contend with cyber security concerns around, what are essentially, IoT devices.
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 IoT device, are vulnerable to the actions of cyber criminals. If a threat actor can gain access to a charging hub, it could have serious consequences, including:
- Risk to User Safety: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. Imagine if the vehicle in question were an ambulance, where delays could be life-threatening.
- Compromise the EV Charging Network:Hackers could knock out an entire network of charging hubs by taking advantage of just one vulnerability in a single device. This could result in loss of revenue for the operator as well as untold disruption to the road network.
- Commercial loss: In addition to shutting down a network of EV hubs, hackers could access the operator’s management software and deploy 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 from a laptop.
- Payment systems:Threat actors could potentially compromise an EV hub’s payment system, leading to financial loss for the driver or the network operator.
Threat actors are wasting no time escalating the scale and sophistication of attacks. Check Point Research recently reported a 59% global increase in ransomware attacks alone, while the UK’s transportation industry experienced an average of 979 cyber attacks a week over the last six months. As a result, it won’t be long until the potential to exploit EV charging stations is exploited, so it is critical that newer, greener technologies are protected.
Climate change and the need to reduce our dependence on oil underscore the imperative to migrate to greener forms of transportation. Concerns over cyber security could be another obstacle to the future growth of the electric vehicle market. Unsecured charging devices are an open door to increasingly sophisticated threat actors and yet there are proven IoT security solutions out there that could prevent such attacks and further encourage the development of sustainable travel.
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