Are EV Charging Stations A New Gateway To Hack The Electrical Grid?

It’s bad enough we must worry about cyber-crackers getting into the electrical grid and bringing down the grid across the nation. There could be a new gateway for hackers to clandestinely gain entry into the grid – Electric vehicle charging stations.

… a new report raises the specter that plug-in electric vehicles — and the charging stations that supply them — could be prime vectors for cyberattacks on urban power grids.

“In simulations using publicly available information about charging station usage in Manhattan and the structure of the island’s power grid, our research team found that a fleet of just roughly 1,000 simultaneously charging electric vehicles would be adequate for mounting an attack whose effects could rival the blackout that affected the city’s West Side last month,” said Yury Dvorkin, assistant professor in NYU Tandon’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


Electric vehicle charging stations represent a link between plug-in electric vehicles and the power grid — a high-wattage access point that hackers can potentially exploit to manipulate the grid.

Electric vehicles using public charging station generate data that includes location, charging time, and power draw from the charging station, information that is useful for a cyber-terrorist to wishing to control demand at any specific charging station. All of the data is accessible via the wireless information sent to the EV owner’s smart phone via the appropriate apps.

Together, these elements allow an attacker to use charging stations as portals to remotely manipulate electric vehicle charging and the power grid by causing instabilities that could range from barely noticeable to significantly disruptive.

The number of EVs is quite small at the moment, but as the number of EVs grows the vulnerabilities grow with them unless a way to secure the charging stations is implemented. The question is, will the manufacturers take the time and money to do so?