Electric Cars

Magnetic card readers at EV chargers could be big security concern, researchers say

There's a reason charging networks are almost entirely app-based.

Why go backward with technology?

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If you've ever swiped your card somewhere and subsequently had your own information swiped, you know how big of a hassle it can be. That's why some researchers are warning the growing EV community away from adding simple magnetic card readers to EV chargers.

A new report from the Digital Citizens Alliance warns against installing credit card readers at public EV charging stations. In the report, DCA claims that adding magnetic swipers "would be a step backward from a consumer security standpoint because the readers are a frequent target of criminal enterprises and individual hackers."

The report notes that many EV charging stations don't have security and aren't always populated, meaning there's plenty of opportunity for an enterprising young buck to sneak up, install a machine that steals credit card data and disappear back into the night. Skimmers can be hard to discover, as many are pitch-perfect recreations of the machines to which they're attached, and most people don't realize their card information has been stolen until their bank calls, asking whether a $300 Taco Bell order is par for the course.

The problem isn't the current slate of EV chargers out there, a plurality of which rely upon either app-based payment solutions or contactless methods like RFID, both of which are much harder to skim. Instead, the report points out that the issue comes from several different states, which are considering mandating credit card readers at publicly funded EV chargers for ease of use. Making something easier has tradeoffs, though, and in this case, it's security.

So what's the solution? Well, it looks a lot like what EV charging networks are already doing. By taking the payment process away from the physical point of sale, companies can add an extra layer of security. Offering additional compatibility with Apple Pay and/or Google Pay provides the same benefits, as well.

(Hat tip to TechCrunch!)

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