Reducing the cybersecurity threat of EV charging

Friday, 19 October, 2018

Reducing the cybersecurity threat of EV charging

The increasing production and use of electric vehicles (EVs) means the charging network is becoming critical infrastructure and requires protection. Researchers from Virginia Tech are investigating EV charging infrastructure cybersecurity to help mitigate any threats.

Led by Ryan Gerdes, Assistant Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, a collaboration of university and industry researchers, vehicle and charger manufacturers and a utility operator will develop comprehensive solutions that aim to decrease the time it takes to charge an EV in a secure and efficient manner.

“We will work to develop systems to protect the infrastructure for fast charging: controllers, converters and monitoring systems. In addition, we will address user privacy by using secure sensing and ‘smart’ defence systems,” said Gerdes. “The process will deploy remote updates to successfully address system vulnerability. We look forward to testing the technologies on a real-world testbed that includes an extremely fast charging unit and battery electric vehicle situated in a microgrid.”

EVs present unique security challenges because they interact with the digital and physical world. 

With OnBoard Security, an industry leader in automotive cybersecurity solutions, Gerdes and his team will assess overall EV charging units and hardware designs. They will then provide recommendations for more resilient charging systems and create new software and charging architectures that will remove vulnerabilities while respecting user privacy.

“Electric vehicles are potentially vulnerable to attacks via the charging stations that could lead to stolen personal and financial information, vehicle damage or even attacks on the electrical grid,” explained Jonathan Petit, Senior Director of Research at OnBoard Security.

Virginia Tech has been awarded a $3 million grant for the research by the US Department of Energy, as part of a larger $80 million investment on advanced technologies research.

“The grant will allow my research team, along with experts from Virginia Tech and other partners, to evaluate these attack vectors and recommend solutions,” said Petit.

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