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A New Wireless Attack that Halts Charging System

Brokenwire

In collaboration with Armasuisse and Swiss researchers, the cybersecurity researchers at Oxford University have discovered a novel attack method for remotely stopping EV charging.

CCS (Combined Charging System) is a standard used for fast charging of electric vehicles in the EV charging world and is one of the standards used for EV chargers.

This newly identified attack has been dubbed Brokenwire, and in this malicious signals are transmitted wirelessly to a vehicle in order to interfere with its charging process and cause electromagnetic interference.

Attack Analysis

However, it has been confirmed that the Brokenwire attack works against DC rapid chargers only. While it is not a problem for smart home charging stations that use AC charging and use different communication standards, they are not impacted.

The researchers improved upon their method in their experiments by replicating it with seven different types of vehicles and 18 different chargers.

While performing this experiment the security analysts achieved distances of up to 47 meters (150 feet) using the following things:-

  • A 1 W RF amplifier
  • A dipole antenna
  • A software-defined radio

Moreover, they have also claimed that drive-by attacks are also possible since they performed the attack demonstration between distinct floors of a building and via perimeter fences.

Here’s what the security experts stated:-

“Brokenwire has immediate implications for many of the around 12 million battery EVs on the roads worldwide and profound effects on the new wave of electrification for vehicle fleets, both for private enterprise and crucial public services. While it may only be an inconvenience for individuals, interrupting the charging process of critical vehicles, such as electric ambulances, can have life-threatening consequences.”

While experts agreed that the threat actors can use this attack to spoil the charging sessions. But, it will have no permanent effect on the targeted systems as long as they are not upgraded to take advantage of it.

To prevent abuse, several technical details about the attack have not been publicly released, but, some findings have been provided to the affected manufacturers.

As a result, they came to the conclusion that no special knowledge is required to conduct an attack using off-the-shelf radio equipment.

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