Dutch EV Charging Infrastructure Gets Cyber Ready

European Network for Cyber Security is researching EV smart charging with Enexis and ElaadNL.
Published: Fri 19 Jun 2015

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Smart grids present new security challenges, especially for electric vehicles (EVs) which can be attacked both electronically and physically. The charging infrastructure is especially vulnerable because it is open to the public-anyone has the ability to plug in an EV, even if it is stolen. Criminals are able to 'digitally imitate' an EV, plugging in their own device while the EV owner pays for the electricity.

With the EV global market hitting 740,000 vehicles today, it comes as no surprise that cyber security around the EV charging infrastructure is gaining a lot of attention.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS) is working with Dutch network operator Enexis and charging infrastructure centre ElaadNL as part of a project researching the evolvability and security of electric vehicle (EV) smart charging infrastructures. This forms part of the AMADEOS project, a three-year FP7 project funded by the European Commission.

The project aims to explore the potential of the AMADEOS approach towards evolvable and secure systems in a real world setting, and to test and demonstrate the technology approach using the concrete infrastructure for EVs to be deployed in the Netherlands.

Solving cyber security challenges in EV charging

AMADEOS, a collaborative project funded under the European Commission’s FP7, was launched in October 2013 and will end in September 2016. The consortium consists of six academic and industrial partners from four different European countries. The aim of AMADEOS is to bring time awareness and evolution into the design of System-of- Systems (SoS) through establishing a conceptual model, generic architectural framework and design methodology supported by prototype tools, for the modeling, development and evolution of time-sensitive SoSs with possible emergent behaviours. An SoS is a collection of task-oriented or dedicated systems that pool their resources and capabilities together to create a new, more complex system which offers more functionality and performance than simply the sum of the constituent systems. AMADEOS is focussed on the energy domain as well as railways, automotive transportation, the ATM network and crisis management.

The European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS) is a non-profit member organization that brings together critical infrastructure stake owners and security experts to deploy secure European critical energy grids and infrastructure. Engerati recently hosted a webinar with ENCS to discuss how industrial systems, protecting and controlling the electricity grid, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to targeted digital attacks. [Engerati-Ready For Battle: Lessons Learnt From A Cyber Attack Simulation On Critical Systems.]

Enexis is on the Advisory Board of AMADEOS and is involved in developing the EV smart charging use case. ENCS is leading the implementation and testing of simulation tools for components in the EV charging infrastructure. ENCS’s role is to apply concepts from high-assurance architectures to EV charging by decomposing the systems into a small number of trusted components with well-defined interfaces.

Dealing with EV charging security risks proactively

Enexis and ElaadNL installed an EV charge station at the ENCS office in May this year in order to better collaborate on the research. The charging station will be used to connect to network and control device simulation tools for testing the evolvability and security concepts researched by the project.

Carlos Montes Portela, Senior Innovator at Enexis with IT (Privacy and Security) architectures for Smart Grids as main focus area, says that for Enexis, smart charging is a very promising concept that enables them to operate the grid in a reliable and affordable manner. He says that the aim is to facilitate charging of EVs without loss of comfort for the EV drivers whilst taking into account the load of the grid and availability of renewable energy.

However, applying smart charging comes with additional security risks that need to be taken into account. Portela explains: “We are aware of these risks and like to tackle them in a proactive manner. That is why we are happy to collaborate with AMADEOS so that the smart charging use case is taken into account. We need skilled specialists to establish the proper high-assurance architectures and ENCS is able to deliver them in a collaborative setting. That is also one of the main reasons we became a member of ENCS.”

Onoph Caron, director at ElaadNL says that electronic vehicle charging is just one example that highlights what the AMADEOS project is aiming to achieve – the development of a highly dynamic and evolving system with multiple stakeholders, whose robustness and security is of critical importance to the overall grid.