Electric vehicle drivers at risk if states mandate use of credit cards at charging stations: report

Electric vehicle drivers at risk if states mandate use of credit cards at charging stations: report
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Drivers of electric vehicles could become the target of cyber criminals if new state rules requiring the use of credit card readers at charging stations go into effect, according to a report from nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance released on Tuesday.

Currently, many electric car charging stations accept online payments from a customer’s smart phone, eliminating the need for physical payments.

However, several states such as California, Vermont, Arizona and Nevada, are considering mandating that electric car charging stations include magnetic strip readers for credit cards.

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Digital Citizens Alliance warned that using credit cards readers could significantly increase the chances of electric car drivers having their cards “skimmed” by hackers on devices illegally installed on the readers.

The skimmers referenced in the report are described as “easy-to-obtain devices engineered to steal credit card data.”

Skimmers have already been a problem at gas stations around the country, where cyber criminals can install them within seconds, with the devices difficult for customers to spot. 

Stolen data from credit card readers costs Americans around $16 billion per year, according to the Digital Citizens Alliance.

The report advocated that mobile payment remain the main form of payment for charging stations, and that “legislators should engage with the security community to better understand fraud risks associated with credit card readers.”

“The stakes have never been higher,” the report authors said. 

April Wright, a cybersecurity expert and one of the authors, described mandating credit card readers as putting drivers of electric cars “in the crosshairs of cyber criminals.”

“With a growing number of EVs [electric vehicles] on the road and dozens of new models hitting showrooms soon, the safety and security of EV charging stations should be paramount,” Wright added.