Could electric vehicle charging stations become targets for hackers?

'I do think we should all be concerned, I don't think we're prepared.'
Electric Cars
Posted at 3:56 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 18:40:58-04

(WXYZ) — With gas prices still running high, more people are looking into electric vehicles, and some cybersecurity experts say charging stations could be a hacker's next target.

"It's awesome, unbelievable. It's like a futuristic car, you know," said Ashraf Khalafawi.

Graphic: Courtesy Pew Research Center

Just about everyone with an electric vehicle, especially the hot selling Tesla, will tell you that they love everything about it — especially the money they save by charging it instead of paying the high price for gas at the pump.

"Three-hundred-and-seventy miles for like less than $15, so that's awesome," said Khalafawi.

Graphic: Courtesy Pew Research Center

"No exhaust. No loud engine. It's cheaper to charge compared to the gas," said Jeff Mead.

But as more people get into the electric vehicle market, the more cybersecurity experts say the potential for a cyberattack increases. And while many of these Tesla drivers are not worried about a hacker, some cybersecurity experts are urging caution.

"There's definitely a play here when it comes to a cyberattack front on our electric vehicles," said Alon Nachmany, a cybersecurity expert.

Nachmany is the field chief information security officer for Appviewx.

"This could be a way for Russian forces to kind of tempt us into using oil and keep the sanctions at bay here. So there's definitely a target. And it's definitely one that's very interesting, as things play out," said Nachmany.

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"You get scared every day ... what they're capable of ... keep you wondering, are we safe," said Khalafawi.

All you have to look to is what happened in 2021 to the Colonial Pipeline when a cyberattack involving ransomware halted their operations. Then imagine an attack on a charging stations — or a network of them.

"This would be the equivalent of ... taking down gas stations, because those electric vehicles ... need to charge otherwise they don't run. And with the different departments, the police departments like the LAPD and Ann Arbor, relying on electric vehicles, you know, you're shutting down people's critical responses, the emergency services that need to go ... to help people," he said.

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Nachmany is one of a number of cybersecurity experts who doubts that our level of protection from hackers at charging stations is where it should be.

"I do think we should all be concerned, I don't think we're prepared. And I definitely don't think our critical infrastructure, whether it be power, water, gas, electric chargers, in this case, which I'm equating to gas, are ready and are prepared," he said.

Nachmany said this isn't the end of it, but very much the beginning.