Sorry, hacking EV chargers to show porn is just passé

EV owners got more than they bargained for when they tried to juice up their cars this week on the Isle of Wight, UK. Three charging points — which were supposed to display the website of the council’s charging network — were hacked to show porn. The issue was brought up by the affected drivers to local paper Country Press, which then reached out to the council. A spokesperson rushed to apologize to “anyone that found the inappropriate web content.” Officers were sent to inspect the EV signage and ensure that the, uh, saucy material was covered up. Did I find the incident funny? No. And the more I considered it, the more I realized how low effort the whole thing was. Showing porn publicly is passé. It’s what a group of teenagers in the 2000s would dream up in their parents’ basement. Honestly? I’m not mad with the people who carried out the cyberattack, just disappointed — there are so many better options they could’ve gone for. Elon Musk’s photo with Gishlaine Maxwell, for one. It’s just hilarious how he’s tried to disassociate himself from the now convicted sex trafficker by saying that she “photobombed” him during the 2014 Oscar afterparty hosted by Vanity Fair. If the hackers wanted to stay on topic, they could have showed Arnold Schwarzenegger as an EV-loving Zeus. Or, indeed, just shirtless shots of him in his bodybuilding pomp. Extra points if they could get the scene from Pumping Iron where he says lifting weights is like “cumming” on repeat. It would’ve been even better if the cyberattackers went conceptual. Imagine putting up a sign on the EV charger displays saying, “This is now an NFT” and then taking a picture of the whole scene and selling it as an NFT. That, friends, is some witty meta shit. Look, there’s nothing wrong with watching porn — everyone does it, after all — but the whole “showing some nudie flicks in an unexpected place” is in line with Rickrolls: it was funny 10 years ago, now it’s just boring.

An actual, serious point

Jokes aside, there is something important we can learn from this story: the security of EV chargers has to be improved. Studies have shown that cybercriminals can do much more than display inappropriate content on the equipment. They can infiltrate charging point systems to alter functionalities, acquire access to the users’ personal and billing information, and even destabilize the entire grid. This bit of silly hacking should be a wake-up call. Local authorities around the world should focus on addressing their stations’ vulnerabilities and minimizing security risks, before something far worse than a screen showing a bit of porn happens.