Report: Home electric-car chargers vulnerable to hackers

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Trinity, professional hacker [from The Matrix]

Trinity, professional hacker [from The Matrix]

Connected home chargers can bring a higher level of convenience to the electric-car ownership experience, allowing more flexibility with remote access, charge scheduling, power-output adjustment, and even data displays. But according to the cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, they can also bring a higher level of vulnerability to your home.

Kaspersky Lab reports that it recently discovered EV chargers from “a major vendor” with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyber-attackers.

The security experts note that a hacker could either remotely stop a charge on the unit, leaving the driver without adequate range, or set it to draw the maximum current possible, which they claim could potentially do damage to the home electrical system.

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These smart chargers aren’t alone in how they’re connected; they’re part of the vast of “Internet of Things” (IoT)—connected devices, like smart thermostats, smart refrigerators, and smart TVs, that go beyond their original purpose by connecting and sharing data.

Beyond the potential damage to your home electrical system from this issue, the consequences include the same vulnerability of breaking into other IoT devices: the compromises of privacy and security.

While the company reports that the charger vendor patched the issue after being informed of it, we have to assume that not every vulnerability will be caught before it’s exploited. These smart devices rely heavily on some cyber-security choices made by users—choices that aren’t always made obvious to owners.

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Here’s Kaspersky’s advice:

1) Regularly update all your smart devices, whether they’re phones, tablets, TVs, or chargers.

2) Don’t use the default password for routers—or any device—and don’t use the same password for every device.

3) Isolate the “smart home network” from the network used by personal devices, for internet searches or work tasks. You may want to contact your router maker, or a network expert, to assure you’re doing walling those devices off correctly.

ChargePoint Home wifi-connected charger

ChargePoint Home wifi-connected charger

ChargePoint Home currently offers a wi-fi-enabled smart-charger through Audi's simplified installation program—via Amazon Home Services. It emphasizes that chargers need to be connected to a network both to take advantage of all the added features and to receive all the latest security updates.

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“ChargePoint is constantly reviewing solutions in our portfolio and making enhancements when appropriate, most of which can be made over-the-air,” said spokesman Darryll Harrison, who quickly responded to our query about security. “Our goal is to ensure that ChargePoint Home remains one of the most reliable and secure home chargers on the market.”

If this all feels a little unnecessary, a wi-fi-connected smart charger might not be for you. There are plenty of excellent choices that leave the charge timing, remote battery-level checks, and climate pre-conditioning to your vehicle’s baked-in connectivity—which may of course have its own set of concerns.

 
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