Is Your EV a Security Risk?

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Tesla stock is more popular than ever among individual investors, leading the stock to rise by over 60% so far this year. 

And, demand for EVs shows little sign of slacking off. According to JD Power, last year, EVs accounted for 5.8% of all new cars sold, an 81% increase over 2021, and the rollout of mainstream vehicles such as the Ford 150 Lightning should only cause EV penetration to increase. 

Given the popularity of electric vehicles, it is perhaps time to take their security more seriously. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal posted an interview with correspondent Bart Ziegler, who wrote an article two weeks ago about whether electric vehicles can be hacked. 

The short answer is, they can.

While internal combustion engine (aka ICE) vehicles may have 150 electronic control units, Syed Ali, a partner and cybersecurity expert at consulting firm Bain & Co., told Ziegler that an average EV could have as many as 3000 chips. Put another way, that’s 20X more opportunities for a hacker to infect an EV with malware than an ICE vehicle.

Hackers could also spread malicious software through public charging stations or home chargers. The latter are particularly vulnerable, as “ many home chargers are linked to the owner’s Wi-Fi network and a smartphone app, or to a cellular network, offering more potential attack vectors,” Ziegler writes.

Experts think that it might take a major cyberattack on the EV infrastructure before the industry and lawmakers take serious steps to help prevent them.

Stuart Madnick, a professor and cybersecurity expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, is one of them. “Sometimes we need a wake-up call,” he told the Journal.

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