The Canadian cybersecurity company BlackBerry thinks that the Dutch network of charging stations for electric cars (EVs) is an interesting target for hackers. A targeted cyber attack can render the charging infrastructure completely unusable. There are several ways to arm ourselves against this.
John Schaap, Senior Director of South & West Europe at BlackBerry, says this in a piece submitted to Emerce.
The Netherlands has the highest density of charging stations in Europe
For example, the Netherlands is working hard on the energy transition by stimulating the sale of electric cars. According to the latest figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS), our country has had 611,477 electric and hybrid cars since June of this year. One in three cars sold in June was an EV.
The number of charging points is also growing rapidly in our country. The counter currently stands at 133,706 public regular charging points. The number of fast charging points grew to 4,834 in June. In terms of charging infrastructure, this country has the same density of charging points as the Netherlands.
Mutual connection increases the attack surface for hackers
This is good news for electric drivers, but it also has a downside, says John Schaap of the cybersecurity agency BlackBerry. There is a risk that the charging networks, the cars connected to them and the electricity networks become the target of a cyber attack. That is worrying because the interconnection between all these systems increases the attack surface for hackers.
A successful attack can cause fluctuations in the power network or even a power outage. In the worst case, the charging infrastructure can be completely disrupted. According to Schaap, there are already known cases of hackers who switch off charging stations remotely or steal electricity. It is, therefore, very important that we do something about the vulnerability of the charging infrastructure.
This is how we keep the charging infrastructure and EVs safe
Schaap’s first tip to do something about this is network segmentation. This means that different systems remain separate from each other. If a hacker penetrates the company network, he will not have access to all network parts. Damage in one system means not all systems are lost.
All parties involved in the charging infrastructure ecosystem must ensure that they use secure software. In addition, one must ensure that software updates are carried out regularly. Vulnerabilities and exploits are then closed, making it much more difficult for hackers to infiltrate computer systems. The right regulations aim to exclude security risks as much as possible and to keep our EVs and charging infrastructure safe.
Good preparation is half the battle. Should a cyber attack nevertheless take place, a plan must be ready. “This is crucial because making decisions during an attack is the worst time,” said Schaap. Finally, all parties involved must build up good security. “Cyber risks go beyond IT infrastructure; how we deal with it also matters. There must also be a reliable protocol for software updates, and authorized technicians must perform maintenance. By having these matters in order, we reduce the cyber risks.”
BlackBerry: ‘Cooperation between partners necessary’
To implement the above tips, close cooperation between all partners is necessary. “Current IoT security [ Internet of Things, ed.] is undergoing a revolution and becoming increasingly complex. It is, therefore, necessary to work together to secure the charging infrastructure for electric cars. If we don’t do that, the charging infrastructure will become one of the essential facilities that hackers will target,” warns Schaap.