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Photo: belchonock via Getty Images

Several states, including California, Vermont and Arizona, are considering requiring electric vehicle charging stations to accept physical, magnetic stripe credit cards rather than other payment options. A new report outlines how that will be a dramatic downgrade in security.

Why it matters: Last October, the 1 millionth electric car was sold in the U.S. Charging stations could be a viable way for credit card thieves to increase their thievery.

Background: Just as gas-powered cars require gas stations, an electric vehicle (EV) needs spots to stop and refill. But unlike gas stations, EV stations are entirely automated and can be placed anywhere, including in garages, rest stops and parking lots.

  • As it stands, EV stations offer a variety of ways to pay for electricity, including mobile apps, contactless credit card payments, mobile app payments and payment by phone. But there is no guarantee any one station accepts any one kind of payment.

Details: In a new report from the security advocacy group, the Digital Citizens Alliance, author April Wright details why adding magnetic stripe payments — the old school, chip-free, swipeable credit card payments — might lead to an increase of credit card fraud.

  • Magnetic stripe card readers are vulnerable to skimmers — credit card thieves that place an unnoticeable device on top of a magnetic stripe reader to steal credit card information. The chip cards are vulnerable to a variant of the attack known as shimming.
  • "Gas stations usually have attendants and are already targeted frequently by skimmers [at the on-pump payment systems]," Wright told Axios. "EV charging stations are in remote locations" where skimmers can install their devices unabated.

The bottom line: "The problem with the proposals being made is not that it's offering more payment options, it’s that they are offering less secure ones," Wright said.

Go deeper

Cyber war scales up with new Microsoft hack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last week's revelation of a new cyberattack on thousands of small businesses and organizations, on top of last year's SolarWinds hack, shows we've entered a new era of mass-scale cyber war.

Why it matters: In a world that's dependent on interlocking digital systems, there's no escaping today's cyber conflicts. We're all potential victims even if we're not participants.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
30 mins ago - Science

Spaceflight contests and our future in orbit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wealthy private citizens are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who can go to space — and some of them want to bring the average person along for the ride.

Why it matters: Space is being opened up to people who wouldn't have had the prospect of flying there even five years ago, but these types of missions have far-reaching implications for who determines who gets to make use of space and for what.

2 hours ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

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