Could Hackers Tamper with Electric Charging Stations?

The future of transportation
The future of transportation

A computer expert by the name of Ofer Shezaf has opened up a new area of discussion with regards to electric charging stations, highlighting their potential exposure to computer hackers. While electric car charging stations are, at this moment in time, few and far between, they are likely to grow in number over the next decade and many experts believe they should be secured sooner rather than later from potential security issues.

How could hackers tamper with electric charging stations?

While one electric car charging station on its own would pose little risk it is the fact that car charging stations will need to be networked in order to maximise the efficient use of the local electric grid. In times of peak charging, electric car charging stations will need to be staggered so as to protect the electric grid and the fact they will be connected in some shape or form via computer, and Internet-based networks, does potentially pose a problem.

To what degree this is a major problem for the electric car charging industry remains to be seen but the fact is that in the future all networked services will need to be more secure.

What could hackers do with if they infiltrated a charging network?

In theory, one of the more simple actions which hackers could take if they were to infiltrate a car charging network would be to close the system down. However, there is also the potential to control the flow of and the rate of electric charging for particular vehicles which could cause problems with internal circuitry and efficiency. At this moment in time these potential attacks are all theoretical and the reality is that if a hacker was to gain control of a car charging network then other issues could also rise.

It may only take one potential weak link in the network to open up the overall network to potential hackers but this is something which will need to be addressed in the months and years ahead. In reality, electric car charging companies are fully aware of their liabilities and their obligations and the risk of hacking, prevalent across any networked system, will always be there.

The development of electric car charging stations

We are starting to see an increase in the number of electric car charging stations, with a 9% rise reported in the first quarter of 2013 for the U.S. alone. This is not a major development but it does show that car manufacturers, governments and electric car charging companies are making at least some progress. We will need to see this particular figure ramped up significantly in the short, medium and longer term although much will depend upon the creation of an upward trend in the number of electric vehicles sold.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "What would it take to have car makers use a standard form factor battery so that batteries be changed instead of recharged?"

Even though much of the focus over the last few years has been upon electric car technology, the fact is that electric car charging stations play as big a role in the development of the overall industry.

Conclusion

While the subject of potential hacking of electric car charging networks will likely take some people by surprise, the fact is that any networked computer systems is potentially at risk of criminal activity. Security issues will need to be addressed in the medium to longer term but in reality this is something that will be done as a matter of course where networked systems are involved.

However, on the other side, at least people are now talking about the development of electric car charging stations over the next decade or so.