As more electric vehicles hit the road, efforts to retrofit America’s infrastructure have moved into hyperdrive. Parking lots, traditional gas stations, and garages are all getting much-needed updates to accommodate for the millions of public charging stations needed to keep up with anticipated electric vehicle demand.
Yes, EVs promise to reduce our reliance on petroleum and save us money during our daily commute. But as the US rushes to meet EV charging demand, cybersecurity is taking a backseat, said Atlanta-based security expert and technology attorney Justin Daniels.
A plugin charging station is a prime spot for bad actors to “conduct denial of service attacks,” initiate a pointed attack on a specific vehicle, or steal someone’s payment information, said Daniels. That could be particularly dangerous when fully autonomous vehicles come to market. But it isn’t just a future risk, since microphones, sensors, and cameras already embedded in newer cars can be exploited.
Can We Make EV Charging Stations Safer?
EVs are also vulnerable places because of the number of new companies rushing into the space right now.
“A lot of the companies getting involved in EVs and EV charging stations are startups. Startups and their investors care [about] product-market fit, having a minimum viable product, and having [customers]. Privacy and security are afterthoughts,” he added.
Data security issues are nothing new for the automotive industry. The reality is that cars today already collect massive amounts of data that the average driver doesn’t even think about.
Consumer education is crucial, said Daniels. But so is overarching policy change.
“When you get in your car, what is one of the first things you do from a safety perspective? Putting on your seatbelt. But that wasn’t always the case,” said Daniels, adding that effective educational campaigns and passing new laws made seat belts a standard part of driving today. He believes it will take legislative overhaul to ensure security is taken seriously within the nascent EV field.
Why It Matters For Georgia
Georgia is a growing hub for EV innovation, with 24 e-mobility focused firms already operating in the state. But it is also at the center of many of the big cybersecurity stories of the last several years. While the city is home to several high-profile security startups, it has also been ground zero for data breaches and hacks (think Equifax, Colonial Pipeline, and the City itself).
As more EV charging stations come online – and as more companies enter the market – Daniels said it is crucial that cybersecurity is baked into the design of new technologies hitting our roads.
For Daniels, the private sector should be thinking: “when I’m designing this EV charging station, I’m going to spend the extra time to really make sure that privacy and security are core design features, not just something I bootstrap on later after I’ve had a breach.”