The electric car chargers along one of the most important freeways in Russia are all down Monday after the Ukrainian company tasked with building the main components in the chargers used backdoor access to hack them, shut them down, and program anti-Putin/pro-Ukrainian messages to scroll past on their screens.
The outage affects chargers along the M11 motorway, which connects Moscow to St. Petersburg. The Russian energy company Rosseti confirmed the hack in a post of the company’s Facebook. It’s a pretty ingenious move:
Charging stations installed on the M-11 route were purchased in 2020 according to the results of an open purchase procedure. The provider was given by the LLC “Gzhelprom” (Russia). It was later discovered that the main components (incl. A. the controller) are actually produced by the company Autoenterprise (Ukraine), and the Russian supplier produced a open assembly.
The manufacturer left a “marketing” in the controller, which gave him the opportunity to have hidden internet access. According to our information, data controllers are widely used on power charging stations exported by Ukraine to Europe.
All this time, the charging stations were in test operation isolated. Given the circumstances, the best software options for these devices were considered. Soon they will be “requested” and back to work.
AutoEnterprise, for its part, reposted this video to its Facebook page pretty much admitting to the chicanery. The video shows one of the disabled chargers displaying messages like “Putin is a dickhead” and “Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes” and is now going viral across social media.
This is great for a bit of a stress-relieving laugh, but only 0.5 percent of the cars in Russia are EVs — that’s just 13,000 cars in a national fleet of 45 million, according to SPGlobal. I can’t imagine this hack will do much to propel the defense of Ukraine forward much, but every little bit helps.