Posted on April 22, 2022 at 8:35 PM
Hackers are constantly looking for opportunities and avenues to carry out their threat action against companies and organizations. And as the electric vehicles (EV) industry keeps growing, threat actors will be eagerly waiting to pounce while many people migrate from hydrogen-powered to electric-powered vehicles.
Electric vehicles are increasingly becoming more available. In addition to the availability, there is also an increased demand for them, with probably its high cost keeping some people away.
According to a recent report, there are more than 2 million electric vehicles in the U.S. But auto executive experts believe that more than 50% of vehicles in the U.S. will be EVs by 2030. With these developments come a very big challenge in terms of security, as they will become easier targets for cybercriminals through EV charging stations.
Vulnerability Of EV Charging station A Major Cause Of Concern
Already, a Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal has allocated $7.5 billion for the establishment of a robust network of EV charging stations. This development is coming at a time when threat actors are increasingly becoming more sophisticated. A nationwide electric charging network will need a significant investment as well as comprehensive planning, especially when it comes to online security.
One of the major challenges to this wonderful development is the cybersecurity of the EV charging station. A massive attack on the charging station could be very costly and highly damaging to almost everyone except, perhaps, the perpetrators. This is where cybersecurity experts see the major challenge – protecting the EV charging stations from threat actors, both from individual hackers and nation-state actors.
Earlier in March, a 19-year-old tech security expert used a third-party software app TeslaMate to successfully hack 25 Tesla cars in different countries. It was the first time a third-party app has been utilized for such a hacking operation on EV data and controls. The incidence shows that there are high risks involved in the use of EVs.
Tesla’s Vigilance On Security Is Not Enough
Tesla has always made it a priority to protect its vehicle’s data from the eyes of cybercriminals. The company has an ongoing reward program that seeks to compensate white hat hackers whenever they crack any security code or find a vulnerability in its servers. This is apart from the company’s major assembly of top security and tech experts in its cybersecurity team. However, it has not prevented hackers from trying and even succeeding at times.
And as electric vehicles become a dominant feature of the car market, more hackers would become more interested to exploit the charging systems. Another major concern is the installation of potentially unprotected EV charging stations across the country. If more is not done to provide stronger security on the stations, they could become the favorite spot for hackers.
The adoption of electric vehicles is bound to increase as the world lays more emphasis on low carbon emissions. The EV charging device is designed in a way that it waits to start communication with another device without seeking validation from a third-party firewall or other security devices. This makes it more vulnerable to attacks since it doesn’t have any cybersecurity device that could act as a shield. With a lack of proper cyber protection, a third-party security system is often required to provide better security.
Additionally, the quick adoption of EV charging technologies/stations makes them more vulnerable to attacks since many security measures could be overlooked. These stations seem to be more vulnerable to threat actors because of the way they are designed.
EV Charging stations Require Robust Security
Last year, the Colonial Pipeline suffered a devastating hacking incident from an overseas threat actor after a single password was compromised. The vulnerability impacted the fuel supply line in Eastern U.S. The company also incurred major costs as it had to pay a ransom of $4.4 million to get its system back and running.
This would be considered a minor case if a hacker succeeds in crippling EV charging stations across California, as it will halt several vehicular movements. With more vulnerability arising from the charging stations, attackers will have more opportunities to break into the servers and potentially have control of the sophisticated EVs.
A recent report by Gartner noted that EV charging stations are likely to increase from 1.6 million units in 2021 to 2.1 million this year. This will likely motivate threat actors to try their hands on these charging stations and take control. As a result, security experts are calling for extreme caution and care in the design of the EV charging stations and a more robust security system.