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Securing electric charging for the future

The requirements, applicable throughout Europe, provide municipalities and distribution network operators with a practical set of considerations when procuring EV chargers

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Requirements will be vital in neutralising the growing threat to EV charging from hackers
Requirements will be vital in neutralising the growing threat to EV charging from hackers

The European Network of Cyber Security (ENCS) and the European Distribution System Operators’ Association for Smart Grids (E.DSO) are launching a set of cyber-security requirements for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

 

It is the first in an upcoming series of security standards for smart grid components and aims to tackle the little-understood cyber risk of EV chargers.

The requirements, which are applicable throughout Europe, provide municipalities and distribution network operators with a practical set of considerations when procuring EV chargers and harmonise security standards across the continent.

 

Integrating knowledge and expertise

 

Integrating the expertise of key industry stakeholders, the new standards are already in use by the Dutch EV knowledge and innovation centre ElaadNL, after they initially approached ENCS to make and maintain the requirements.

“From a security standpoint, the potential impact of EVs on the grid simply can’t be understated,” said Anjos Nijk, managing director of ENCS. “By 2020, there’s expected to be nearly 220,000 EV chargers installed. At this scale, these requirements will be vital in neutralising the growing threat from hackers who could potentially cause a blackout through poorly-protected EV chargers.”

 

Two sets of requirements have been set out to:

 

  • make sure the charge point itself is secure;
  • that it has all the functionality needed to set up secure operational processes;
  • that its vendor takes measures to ensure its security throughout its lifecycle;
  • that measures are taken to assure that security measures have been implemented well;
  • make sure communications between the charge point operator (CPO) and distribution system operator (DSO) are secure. These requirements can be used as part of the security requirements when new server systems are procured or set up.

Speaking on the development of security measures for EV charging, Joachim Schneider, chairman of the technology committee of E.DSO, said the requirements are not only key to the long-term vision of its work with ENCS, but lay a strong foundation for “meaningful and proper certification”.

"In the future, the EV fleet will represent grid-scale cumulative power capacity; compromising EV charging could be as disruptive as compromising a power plant”

He added: “You can only really achieve this with requirements born out of a collaborative effort between grid operators and cyber experts, which was a key element in our project. This joint expertise will be key in encouraging EV charger manufacturers towards a security-by-design approach.”

Onoph Caron, managing director of ElaadNL, the initial beneficiary of the ground-breaking requirements, stated: “As e-mobility and smart charging increase, it’s vital that cyber-security to protect them follows.

 

“In the future, the EV fleet will represent grid-scale cumulative power capacity; compromising EV charging could be as disruptive as compromising a power plant.”

The new requirements build on ENCS and E.DSO’s recent leadership pledge on smart grid cyber security, and on their memorandum of understanding signed in 2016.

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