Are Charging Stations Vulnerable to Hackers? Security Expert Says Yes

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 3

All Connect Charging Stations Could Be Vulnerable to Hackers

All Connect Charging Stations Could Be Vulnerable to Hackers

At the Hack in the Box conference in Amsterdam, a security researcher by the name of Ofer Shezaf warned that charging stations could be a major target for hackers.

Hacker Alert!

Hacker Alert!

According the Shezaf, product manager of security solutions at HP ArcSight, connected charging stations could be accessed by hackers rather easily.  Once in, hackers could tap into certain systems in the vehicle or even tinker with the grid.  Shezaf says that a hacker could actually prevent charging in certain area or cripple portions of the electricity grid.

We admit we aren’t hacker types here at InsideEVs, so our knowledge of this is limited, but Shezaf’s claims seem severe.  As he says, charging stations are not secure at the moment and he urges all station manufactures to rethink their approach.  He says that chargers must be designed to prevent any form of tampering, especially as the number of units across the globe continue to rise.

Shezaf states:

“Essentially a charging station is a computer on the street.  And it is not just a computer on the street but it is also a network on the street.  There are systems on the street and it is very easy to access the computer.  When you get to the equipment, reverse engineering it is actually a lot easier than you think.”

Don't Hack Us

Don’t Hack Us

Again, Shezaf is only talking of connected chargers, or units that access the Internet to communicate either with the vehicle or charging stations manufacturer or with other stations in the area.

As Shezaf claims, once one of these connected chargers has been hacked, then the hacker has access to all of the systems on that particular network.

And it’s easier than you might think.  Shezaf describes one type of charging station, which he doesn’t disclose for obvious reasons, that requires nothing more than a key to access.  Once open, hackers flip a DIP switch to configuration mode, connect and ethernet cable and the system is in their hands.

Hacking a system to prevent electric vehicle charging would be a problem, but the major issue here is whether or not hackers will figure out a way to “take down the grid.”  Shezaf says that’s possible.

What’s the solution?  According to Shezaf, it’s not difficult to secure chargers.  He says that standardization of an open source security system wouldn’t cost too much money  and would accomplish the task of blocking hackers.

Shezaf closes by saying the time to act is now:

“We shouldn’t be relaxing now. The issues will become real when electric cars become real. If we don’t start today it won’t be secure in 10 years.

via PC World

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3 responses to "Are Charging Stations Vulnerable to Hackers? Security Expert Says Yes"

  1. kdawg says:

    Um, yeah, and they could just walk up w/some cable cutters. What’s the point?

  2. Bill Howland says:

    Good Heavens!! They might find out the 30 amp EVSE is charging at (redacted information), 30 amps!! Or that the 208 volts at the unit was only 200 in operation ( top secret utility proprietary information).

  3. Martijn says:

    Don’t try this at home!

    Some of these devices work with very high currents. If something goes wrong while messing with it you will be fried and then you die. .