Even though Tesla’s recent sales numbers painted a positive picture for the often beleaguered company, it’s still very early days for the electric vehicle market. The availability of EV charge points has been cited as a key obstacle in EV sales growth, but one researcher recently pointed to the newer generation of smarter charge points, meant to make EVs more attractive by offering features such as the ability to monitor or schedule charges via smartphone, or pay by touchless smart card, as also being a possible area of serious technical vulnerability. According to security analyst Ofer Shezaf, enterprising hackers could gain access to smart EV chargers and obtain access to logins, payments, hack into city or utility systems that run the chargers, or shut down parts of the networks themselves.
Shezaf, who presented the results of his research into EV charge point weaknesses last month at the Hack in the Box conference in Amsterdam, says, like many new infrastructure technologies, the connectivity that makes the newest EV charge points “smart,” also renders them vulnerable at the moment. The future risks could be substantial in a country such as the Netherlands, which has seen eightfold growth of EV use in just one year, and is banking on EV charging networks as an important tool in getting drivers to switch to cleaner, cheaper EVs.
In some cases, hackers could simply unlock a charge point with a key, plug in an Ethernet cable and browse away with a laptop in the same way one might talk to a wi-fi router on a home network, Shezaf said.