How to Reduce the Cybersecurity Risks of EV Charging Stations
Electrical vehicles (EVs) have become increasingly popular, especially with individuals trying to reduce their carbon footprint. With more people buying EVs, many are unaware of the associated digital risks of charging the vehicle. Learn more about the cybersecurity risks of EV charging stations and how to reduce them.
The Risk of EV Charging Stations
Unfortunately, electric vehicle charging stations present a cybersecurity risk. The truth is the security of these stations is not taken as seriously as it should be. Often, they receive few software updates, and are left outdated or installed in areas that don’t prioritize cybersecurity.
Anyone with basic cybersecurity knowledge knows the importance of keeping technology up to date. This is essential because threats continue to evolve, and software updates fix vulnerabilities malware and hackers exploit.
Due to the rising popularity of EVs, people are starting to see increased attacks on charging devices. In the UK, threat actors hacked a charging station and made it display pornographic content. While this alone is already a serious incident, it can worsen.
If charging stations become compromised, malicious parties could obtain personal information about EV owners, which could lead to identity theft. An even more serious outcome is the disruption of the charging station, where hackers could turn devices on and off.
While this could create several headaches for the EV owner, it could affect many people. If multiple chargers turned on simultaneously, it could disrupt the power grid. Researchers found that if hackers exploited 1,000 EV chargers simultaneously, it could create massive city blackouts. Given the risk of these dangers, EV chargers require more advancement to make them more secure.
What Vulnerabilities Can Threat Actors Exploit on EV Charging Stations?
Here is a summary of a few EV charging station vulnerabilities threat actors could exploit:
- Outdated machinery: If charger software or hardware is outdated, it can act as an entry point for threat actors.
- Weak network security: Not updating Wi-Fi passwords or encrypting the network the charger connects to.
- Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi does usually not follow cybersecurity best practices. Hackers could use these weak networks to gain access to the charger station.
What Cyber Risk Does Charging Stations Create?
When choosing a charging station, there are several physical risks to know about, but owners must also note the digital side of things. Here are some of the associated hazards of hacked charging stations:
- Access to personal information: If hackers gain access to the EV charger, they can obtain sensitive information such as credit card details. This could lead to several problems for EV owners.
- Gateway for various malware: Threat actors could install malware on the charging station’s network, infecting more devices and creating additional risks.
- Prevent charging: If threat actors exploit these devices’ security, it could cause a disruption or prevent charging.
- Disrupt power grids: If hackers exploit multiple stations simultaneously, it could cause downtime for power grids and create other challenges.
- Steal electricity: Threat actors could hack the device to display harmful information and steal electricity.
Can EV Owners Protect Themselves Against This Threat?
According to research, cyber attacks occur every 39 seconds, so it’s essential that people implement solutions that can adequately protect them from digital threats. While electric vehicle owners can implement some measures to reduce the likelihood of these risks, manufacturers are the ones that can make a real difference. However, here are a few actions drivers could implement.
Disconnect the Charging Station From the Internet
One of the best measures EV owners can take to protect themselves from these dangers is disconnecting the charger from the internet. This will eliminate most risks they could encounter. However, many people might be reluctant to utilize this practice because doing so will make them miss out on several features smart EV charging stations offer.
Keep the Software of the Charging Station Updated
Failing to update the software of charging stations can act as an entry point for threat actors. EV owners should ensure that whenever new updates become available, they download and install them. This will allow these systems to have the necessary capabilities to circumvent the latest threats.
Employ Cybersecurity Best Practices at Home
Another great preventive measure EV owners can take is to utilize cybersecurity best practices on their home networks. These include updating Wi-Fi passwords regularly, changing router login information, and encrypting the network. Another excellent step is to install a firewall that will prevent threat actors from accessing the charging station or any other part of the network.
Use the Power of Network Segmentation
Network segmentation involves dividing the network into smaller parts. Essentially, each section acts as its own network. This practice can help mitigate the risk of someone exploiting a vulnerability in the charging station.
Prioritize Charging at Home
If EV owners have implemented a few cybersecurity best practices at home, it might be better to prioritize charging there. Unfortunately, public charging stations could lack security, making them vulnerable to attacks. It’s better to use trusted charging stations only.
Mitigating the Cyber Risks of EV Charging Stations
As with any device, charging stations have cyber risks. EV owners can implement measures to reduce the likelihood of these risks when they know the dangers.
While most preventative measures need to come from manufacturers, some changes can make home charging stations more secure. EV owners implementing a few cybersecurity best practices can have peace of mind knowing they’re well protected.