Challenges to Electric Vehicle Charging Points Cybersecurity Could Delay Adoption - GADGET-INNOVATIONS

Challenges to Electric Vehicle Charging Points Cybersecurity Could Delay Adoption

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Green travel initiatives may be held back as electric vehicle charging point cybersecurity is overlooked 


By Harish Kumar, Head, Enterprise, Check Point Software Technologies, India & SAARC



In the last few years, we have seen an increasing push for the adoption of EVs or Electric Vehicles, especially as fuel prices soar higher than before. In addition, EVs are also seen as an environmentally friendlier option. The Union government’s FAME 2 scheme and subsidies by certain state governments in India have done much to make EVs more affordable for buyers, with a growing market for these as more manufacturers are entering the Indian market and several automobile companies now investing in building an EV division.


However, Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd., a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, highlights the cyber threats that come with electric vehicle (EV) charging points and warns they may delay the wider adoption of EVs.


Governments around the world are pushing the move to greener technologies to combat climate change and reduce their reliance on hydrocarbons. Norway has built a network of 17,000 charging points, while the US Department of Transportation recently announced a $5B plan to create a new network of EV charging stations. As per EV industry body - Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles - there are 1,800 charging stations in India as of March 2021 for approximately 16,200 electric cars, including the fleet segment.


But India needs about 400,000 charging stations to meet the requirement for two million Electric Vehicles (EV) that could potentially ply on its roads by 2026, according to a report by Grant Thornton Bharat-Ficci.  In truth, the report also highlighted that for India to reach its vision of 100 per cent EVs by 2030, factors such as increasing government support, decreasing cost of technology, and distressing pollution levels, would be key to accelerate this transition.


However, while automotive companies are ramping up production of new electric vehicles, the industry is not doing enough to deal with cybersecurity concerns around, what are essentially, IoT devices.


When users charge their vehicles, there is also a data connection between the vehicle and the EV hub. Charging stations are connected to the internet and, like any other IoT device, are vulnerable to the actions of cybercriminals. If a threat actor can gain access to a charging hub this could have serious consequences including:


· Risk to User Safety: Theoretically, via an EV charging point, a hacker could access a vehicle’s engine management system and either compromise safety, performance or disable the vehicle altogether. Imagine if the vehicle in question were an ambulance, where delays could pose a threat to life. 


· Compromise the EV Charging Network: Hackers could knock out an entire network of charging hubs by taking advantage of just one vulnerability in one device. This could result in loss of revenue for the operator as well as untold disruption to the road network.


· Commercial loss: In addition to shutting down a network of EV hubs, hackers could access the operator’s management software and drop ransomware with consequent financial and reputational damage. Also, many commercial fleets are converting to electric power and a hacker could disable an entire delivery operation just from their laptop.


· Payment systems: Threat actors could potentially compromise the payment system at an EV hub, leading to financial loss for the driver or the network operator.


Threat actors are wasting no time escalating the scale and sophistication of attacks. Check Point Research recently reported a 59% global increase in ransomware attacks alone, while the UK’s transportation industry experienced an average of 979 cyberattacks a week over the last six months. As a result, it won’t be long until the potential to exploit EV charging stations is noted, so it is pivotal that newer, greener technologies are protected. 

Check Point believes that climate change and the need to reduce our dependence on oil underline the imperative to migrate to greener forms of transportation. Concerns over cybersecurity could be another obstacle to the future growth of the electric vehicle market, so it’s vital that the industry takes the threat seriously. Unsecured charging devices are an open door to increasingly sophisticated threat actors and yet there are proven IoT security solutions out there that could prevent such attacks and further encourage the development of sustainable travel.