Skip to Content
Security & privacy

Hackers find clever way to steal gas

The worst thing about living in a high-tech world is that criminals have also gone high-tech. Think about all of the digital threats that we constantly need to be watching for.

From spoofed websites to phishing emails that are trying to steal our credentials and payment information, cybercrime is everywhere. It seems there’s no safe corner to be found in the digital world.

Cybercriminals are getting even more sophisticated with their attacks lately. Some slippery thieves recently found a way to hack into a gas station’s system to rip off thousands of dollars worth of gas.

How in the world did they pull this off?

One of the most well-oiled heists in a while was pulled off last month in Michigan, in broad daylight. Detroit police are trying to find out who is responsible for ripping off nearly $2,000 worth of gasoline.

What happened was, 10 vehicles in a row at the same gas station were able to fill up their tanks without having to pay one cent. That’s because some crafty hackers were able to break into the gas station’s computer system and take over the operation of its pumps.

The station attendant working at the time told a local news channel that he knew patrons were not paying for the gas but he was helpless in stopping it. Apparently the thieves were able to block the attendant from shutting the gas pump down from inside the building.

The attendant was eventually able to find an emergency kit that let him shut down the pump and call the police. But the damage had already been done.

The heist lasted a little over an hour and a half. When it was all said and done, about 600 gallons of gas were stolen. At this point, authorities haven’t been able to pinpoint how the system was taken over by criminals.

One theory piggybacks on a 2017 report from a security research team. The researchers found multiple vulnerabilities in an automated system that is used to control fuel prices at thousands of gas stations across the globe.

These flaws would allow hackers to cause tons of havoc. They could shut down fuel pumps, steal credit card information from customers, and even take control of back-end operations such as surveillance cameras and other systems connected to the gas station’s network.

Not helping matters is the fact that there is a search engine that helps hackers find flawed internet-connected devices and systems. It’s called Shodan, and hackers use it to find their next victims all the time.

Stealing gas is bad enough, but imagine if you were a customer who had credit card data stolen during an attack like this. That’s where it gets personal. Listen to our free podcast below to find out how scammers are trying to rip you off every time you swipe your card at a retail location.

Listen to our free podcast on how hackers can also target you

Anytime you swipe your credit or debit card, you are putting your money at risk. Hackers and scammers have gotten more sophisticated. In this free Komando on Demand podcast, I will tell you how to spot the skimmers and shimmers.

Stop robocalls once and for all

Robocalls are not only annoying, but they scam Americans out of millions every year. Learn Kim's tricks for stopping them for good in this handy guide.

Get the eBook