Chargers along one of Russia’s most important motorways are not working and are displaying messages like “Putin is a dickhead” and “Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.”
The M11 Motorway in Russia, which connects the country’s two biggest cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) is one of the busiest roads in the country. But for the few people driving electric cars in the country, it’s become virtually unusable.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the electric car chargers along the motorway were hacked. The Russian energy company Rosseti admitted the problem but claimed it’s not an external hack, but rather an internal one.
Reportedly, some of the main components in the chargers come from a Ukrainian company. A Facebook statement from Rosseti claims the Ukrainian company left a backdoor access to the pumps, shutting them down and displaying the scrolling anti-Putin messages.
“Charging stations installed on the M-11 route were purchased in 2020 according to the results of an open purchase procedure. The chargers were provided 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.”
AutoEnterprise’s Facebook page re-posted a video showing the pumps, but it’s not clear if they claimed responsibility for this or if they were just happy to see it.
As its troops continue to bomb Ukraine and march in on its main cities, Russia has been increasingly under cybernetic attack, with hackers from all around the world hitting at Russian websites and even television.
The Russian state-funded television was hacked by the activist group Anonymous, displaying anti-war messages and urging the Russian people to act to stop the water. Russian TV channels were also attacked and made to play Ukrainian music and display uncensored news of the conflict from news sources outside Russia.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely that any of these actions will have a major impact on Russia’s military attack, but they could help spread more information inside Russia about the events in Ukraine. Russian authorities are actively censoring the situation and for years, they have tried to censor and control what the Russian people get to hear — not shying away from detaining journalists or even worse.
Cyber attacks will likely continue to escalate on both sides, involving both state and non-state actors. War is no longer fought only on the front lines — nowadays, it’s fought online as well.