Experts Aim To Protect EV Charging Stations From Cyberattacks

To avoid future cyber threats to electric vehicle charging stations, it is essential to take precautionary steps in this digital age

With the increasing number of electric vehicles on the road, so does the need for electric vehicle charging stations and internet-based management systems within those stations. However, these management systems have their own problems: cybersecurity attacks. Image credit: UTSA

Having learned from cyber attacks in the past, much emphasis has since been placed on protecting autonomous vehicle (AV) systems from such recurring threats. Better awareness is key to mitigating your vehicle’s systems from exposure and endangerment.

While there are some challenges to overcome in terms of their widespread adoption, there is no doubt that electric vehicles (EVs), such as autonomous vehicles, are the future of modern transportation.

As the number of electric vehicle charging stations rises, there will also be a need for effective internet-based management systems within those stations. However, due to the lack of awareness, these management systems can be exposed to cyberattacks that could eventually rip the entire electric vehicle charging mechanism including remote monitoring and customer billing.

“Electric vehicles are the norm nowadays. However, their management stations are vulnerable to security exploits,” said Elias Bou Harb, associate professor in the Department of Information Systems and Cyber ​​Security at Carlos Alvarez School of Business, and director of the UTSA Center for Security and Analytics.

deep analysis

To explore the realistic effects of cyber-attacks against electric vehicle charging systems and how to take advantage of counter cyber security measures to mitigate them, he and his team of experts delved into the study of how infrastructure related to electric vehicle charging stations such as power grids are affected. First of all, the team evaluated various tools including firmware, mobile and web apps involved in the electric vehicle charging management system.

“In this work, we sought to uncover relevant security vulnerabilities and understand their consequences for electric vehicles and the smart grid while providing recommendations and sharing our findings with the relevant industry for proactive security remediation,” said Elias Bou Harb.

He also added, “We devised an in-system search and aggregation approach to identify a large number of electric vehicle charging systems, and then leveraged reverse engineering and black/white box web application penetration testing techniques to perform a comprehensive vulnerability analysis.”

Upon analysis, the team discovered a range of security vulnerabilities between systems such as missing authentication and cross-site programming, which could be exploited by attackers to tamper with firmware or to gain illegal access to user data.

solution

By developing various security measures, guidelines and best practices for developers to mitigate cyber attacks, the expert team has suggested some countermeasures.

To prevent a mass attack on the power grid, it is recommended to fix existing vulnerabilities and include appropriate security measures during the development stage of electric vehicle charging mechanisms.

“Many members of the industry have already acknowledged the vulnerabilities that we discovered,” Bo Harb said. “This information will help to fortify these charging stations to protect the public and make recommendations for future security solutions in the context of electric vehicles and the smart grid.”

To further analyze other areas of the electric vehicle charging ecosystem, the team is working with key players in the industry. This will help develop more robust and resilient security measures that protect vulnerable charging stations from exploitation.

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