Cases of hacking are on the increase in the EV community.
As the world rapidly shifts to EV transport, the automotive industry is experiencing some major teething issues. The global charging network is having to keep pace with more and more EVs on the road, and as manufacturers expand their networks, cracks are starting to appear in their grand schemes. We recently reported that a long string of EV chargers outside of Moscow were hacked by Ukrainian programmers to display anti-war and anti-Putin messaging, and there have even been cases in the UK where charging station displays showed graphic images. Hacking EV infrastructure is becoming more commonplace, and it could be a bigger issue than many might think.
Experts have seen a rise in charging station hacking incidents in the past few months, including incidents where hackers would load ransomware onto chargers to slow them down or stop functionality altogether. Hackers can also lock users out of their user profiles until they pay a ransom fee, or hack into the chargers themselves to save on charging fees. "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. Hackers are looking for ways to make money," said Yoav Levy, CEO of Upstream Security, an Israeli provider of automotive cybersecurity platforms, told Automotive News. But it's not only EV charging stations that are getting hacked: the cars themselves are also being accessed by outside operators for all kinds of nefarious purposes.
With the rise of over-the-air updates, and the ever increasing interconnectedness between our cars and personal electronic devices, it's becoming easier for both black and white hat hackers to gain access to our vehicles. Black hat hackers are those who hack software for illegal reasons, and usually do so for monetary gain or for political reasons. White hat hackers try to hack into software systems to help companies improve their systems. Back in 2018, we reported on a black hat hacker who used his phone to hack into a vehicle's software. The 21-year-old man managed to drive away with a Tesla Model 3. According to Levy, more than 80 percent of all cyber attacks in 2021 were conducted remotely, meaning there is no physical connection between the hacker and a vehicle or charging station, which is the scary part.
Levy states that hackers could eventually target fleet vehicles and ask large sums to allow big groups of vehicles to charge at hacked stations.
"Is a consumer going to pay ransomware to release their charging station at home? I don't think so. But if you have a fleet, or if this is your business, then you face a bigger risk. Think about a delivery company - and just before Christmas, your entire fleet is shut down. How disruptive would that be?" he said. As the new technology grows, so too will its security, but right now, hackers are seeing a golden opportunity to make some cash.