Kaedi Sanchez plugs in her car at a City of Albuquerque electric vehicle charger before heading to work. Sandia National Laboratories researchers have been studying the vulnerabilities of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including public chargers, to better inform policymakers. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

Sandia studies vulnerabilities of electric vehicle charging infrastructure

November 17, 2022 6:53 am Published by

Review of vulnerabilities helps prioritize grid protections, informs policy makers

With electric vehicles becoming more common, the risks and hazards of a cyberattack on electric vehicle charging equipment and systems also increases. Jay Johnson, an electrical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, has been studying the varied vulnerabilities of electric vehicle charging infrastructure for the past four years.

Johnson and his team recently published a summary of known electric vehicle charger vulnerabilities in the scientific journal Energies.

“By conducting this survey of electric vehicle charger vulnerabilities, we can prioritize recommendations to policymakers and notify them of what security improvements are needed by the industry,” Johnson said. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $7.5 billion to electric vehicle charging infrastructure. As a part of this funding, the federal government is requiring states to implement physical and cybersecurity strategies. We hope our review will help prioritize hardening requirements established by the states. Our work will also help the federal government standardize best practices and mandate minimum security levels for electric vehicle chargers in the future.”

Compiling vulnerabilities

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure has several vulnerabilities ranging from skimming credit card information — just like at conventional gas pumps or ATMs — to using cloud servers to hijack an entire electric vehicle charger network.

Sandia researchers are working with experts from Argonne, Idaho and Pacific Northwest national laboratories; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and others as a national security laboratories team.

“We are focused on larger impacts to critical infrastructure as we electrify more of the transportation industry,” Johnson said. “We have been studying potential impacts to the power grid. Also, as law enforcement and other government agencies consider switching to electric vehicles, we’ve been thinking about how the inability to charge vehicles could impact operations.”

Read more in the complete news release.

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