Electric vehicle charging stations ‘easy’ to attack, says new research | CBC News

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Electric vehicle charging stations ‘easy’ to attack, says new research | CBC News

How much do you know about the electric charging station where you plug in your electric vehicle?

New research at the University of Windsor is looking at security vulnerabilities of charging stations — not only could your payment information be stolen, but the electricity grid could be compromised too. 

Mitra Mirhassani, an engineering professor, said not enough is being done when it comes to security of these stations. 

“Most of the charging stations are placed wherever a company sees convenient,” said Mirhassani. “These can be insecure roads and parking lots. Everyone seems to forget they are connected to infrastructure — to the energy grid.”

Mirhassani said if there was to be an attack on that energy infrastructure, there would be a lot of issues that couldn’t be fixed quickly. 

“We realized that if we introduced hardware modifications, then you could, without the knowledge of the programmer, cause artificial intelligence to respond differently than expected,” said Mirhassani. “The programmer might not even realize there are changes made to the AI.”

Chargers can be attacked in several points — payment, hardware, charging ports — and Mirhassani said they could be considered an “open gate” for hackers. 

How much do you know about the electric charging station where you plug in your electric vehicle? (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

According to Mirhassani, if the chargers were compromised they could steal energy from the grid, which would cause imbalance in the network. 

“That would cause problems for the city, for smart buses … it would cause a lot of misreadings and misrouting,” said Mirhassani. 

A compromise to the payment system would release all the financial information of anyone who has used that station. 

Mirhassani recently received $640,000 from FedDev Ontario for her research. While the grant is only for a two-year period, she hopes to get more funding in the future. 

According to Mirhassani, there are only a few protections in place for the energy grid right now. 

“It’s rather easy to attack [charging stations],” said Mirhassani. 

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