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Cyber-physical System Security of Vehicle Charging Stations

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Cyber-physical System Security of Vehicle Charging Stations

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Cyber-physical System Security of Vehicle
Charging Stations
Raju Gottumukkala
Director of Research, IRI
Assistant Professor, College of
Engineering
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, USA
raju@louisiana.edu
Rizwan Merchant
Center for Advanced Computer
Studies
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, USA
rizwan@louisiana.edu
Adam Tauzin
Electrical and Computer
Engineering
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, USA
adam.tauzin@louisiana.edu
Kaleb Leon
Electrical and Computer
Engineering
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, USA
kpl3181@louisiana.edu
Andrew Roche
Instructor, Electrical and
Computer Engineering
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, USA
amr7582@louisiana.edu
Paul Darby
Assistant Professor, Electrical
and Computer Engineering
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, USA
darby@louisiana.edu
Abstract—Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), also
known as charging stations, are available for charging electric
vehicles. EVSE contain computers that are connected to the
Internet. These systems serve important control functions such
as authorization, charging electric vehicles, and connecting to
the local power grid. Charging stations authorize users and
vehicles using RFID cards, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. Moreover, there
are many sensing, communication and computational
components in EVSEs that are potentially vulnerable to cyber-
security attacks. We have observed that these vulnerabilities can
be potentially exploited by hackers to compromise the
availability, integrity, and confidentiality of a network of
charging stations, or even the power grid. Given the tremendous
growth in the electric vehicle market in the next few years, it is
important to design dependable charging stations. Designing
trustworthy charging stations require a deeper understanding
of the cyber-physical interactions within the charging station, as
well as how the cyber and physical components affect each other.
This paper presents a cyber-physical system approach to
understanding the interaction of various components within
smart charging equipment. Furthermore, the different types of
vulnerabilities and attacks, and approaches to improve CPS
security are also explained.
K
EYWORDS
:
EVSE
,
SMART CHARGING
,
CYBER
-
PHYSICAL SYSTEM
SECURITY
,
ELECTRIC VEHICLES
I. I
NTRODUCTION
The number of electric vehicles is expected to grow from
3 million to 120 million in the next decade [1]. In the United
States alone, there are 290,000 electric cars on the road, that
represents 69% increase from previous year [2]. The charging
equipment, also known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment
(EVSE) (or interchangeably called charging stations in this
paper), provide safe and secure charging to the electric
vehicles, similarly to gas stations. EVSE connected to the
power grid may be managed by a Building Energy
Management System (BEMS), which manages interfacing
between the power grid and EVSE.
Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are engineered systems
built through seamless and secure integration of computation
(i.e., sensing, computing, and networking) and physical
components [3]. Smart systems technologies such as smart
transportation, smart grid, smart vehicles, smart
manufacturing, etc. rely on the fundamentals of this CPS
integration. Smart charging provides a communication
mechanism between the EVSE and the grid that support
power monitoring and management to improve efficiency and
customization of charging schedules. Through better
connectivity and control, smart charging protocols are
designed to reduce costs, aid in balancing peak loads, and
facilitate better integration with different levels of grid
operators and renewable energy sources. Existing EVSEs
have several computing and communication components that
are used to both manage and control the operation of power
equipment. Emerging smart grid technologies additionally
aim to facilitate a two-way power exchange between Plug-in
Electric Vehicles (PEV) and the grid via EVSE, particularly
fast chargers. Moreover, both personal and financial
information is exchanged during smart charging as part of the
authentication process. Hence, the safe and secure operation
of EVSE is of paramount importance to vehicles, people, and
the power grid infrastructure. There are several motivations
for launching an attack on a charging station, ranging from
electricity theft to pranks to more sophisticated attacks that
involve disrupting a network of charging stations by using an
EVSE as an entry point. Attacks could be more serious still
where malware could potentially be spread across a network
of charging stations that could would affect the power grid.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has
developed a set of standards and protocols to be implemented
by charging station manufacturers, such as SAE J1772[4][5].
The number of interconnected components in EVSE and the
connectivity with many subsystems (i.e. vehicles, phones,
BEMS, and the power grid), and poorly implemented security
mechanism makes EVSE extremely vulnerable to cyber-
attacks. A recent cybersecurity report from the United States
Department of Energy/Department of Transportation
(DOE/DOT) highlights cyber-security gaps [6] with existing
EVSE infrastructure that includes man-in-the-middle attacks,
payment fraud, privacy, battery damage, Denial of Service
978-1-7281-1457-6/19/$31.00 ©2019 IEEE
(DoS) attacks, and malware spread from PEV to EVSE. The
aforementioned report and recent studies by Rhode [7],
Dalheimer [8], and Shezaf [9] demonstrated deficiencies and
gaps in existing charging infrastructure from the lack of
cyber-security guidelines and testing before they were
deployed. Recent studies have also highlighted how
uncontrolled charging by EVSE can create an imbalance or a
negative effect on the grid.
In this paper, we first present EVSE as a CPS, then discuss
and summarize cybersecurity based vulnerabilities, threats
and consequences. We also present methods and future
research directions to improve the CPS security of charging
stations.
II. A
C
YBER
-P
HYSICAL
A
PPROACH TO
EVSE
S
ECURITY
Most charging stations already implement some form of
information security. However, these information
technology-based methods are limited with respect to
understanding how the controls may affect the overall CPS
security. The primary motivation behind this work in
presenting EVSE as a CPS is to present the cyber-threats and
vulnerabilities in the EVSE design that would affect safe and
secure charging of electric vehicles or the electric grid.
The following are three major cyber-security objectives to
design a cyber-physical system:
Availability: The availability of charging stations is
determined by the active time versus the down time of
the charging services. It is important that a defense is
provided to both monitor, detect, and prevent DoS
attacks, among other types of attacks on charging stations
to maintain high availability.
Integrity: Integrity provides protection against
unauthorized changes to both the data and control
information. The protection needs to be provided against
tampering with information stored (either on the charging
station, centralized server, or the client’s device) or
exchanged between various entities.
Confidentiality: Confidentiality guarantees secrecy is
maintained in data transmission between various parties.
The main types of EVSE are Level 1 (120VAC single-
phase “trickle charge”), Level 2 (240VAC from split-phase),
and Level 3 (up to 500VDC). Level 2 EVSE designed for use
in publicly available charging stations contain considerably
more complex hardware than Level 1 chargers and Level 2
EVSE for private home usage. The availability of more
sophisticated computer hardware also allows Level 2 EVSE
to include more safety protections for charging than most
Level 1 EVSE. An example of this hardware can be seen in
the schematic diagram depicted in Figure 1b. As shown in the
diagram, beyond the equipment needed to actually enable AC
charging, Level 2 EVSE at charging stations require
proprietary Printed Circuit Boards to control a variety of
components and subsystems. For example, many Level 2
EVSE have communication modules used for wireless
communication with a network (typically Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,
and/or cellular), allowing for manufacturers to implement a
number of functions, such as user validation and verification,
price setting by station management, and the reporting of
diagnostic information. EVSE at Level 2 charging stations
also tend to be equipped with indicator LEDs and LCDs that
are used for providing users with feedback on the status of the
station and/or the stage of a charging cycle that is currently
underway, similar to modern gas pumps. It is also common
for EVSE to come equipped with radio-frequency
identification (RFID) scanners that can read credit cards or
EVSE network member cards for the purpose of processing
payments. Although Figure 1 only depicts one main computer
board interfacing with a variety of modules, EVSE may
instead implement several special-purpose boards, such as a
communication board, an LED board, or a user I/O board.
Figure 1: High-level Schematic Diagram of a Generic
Level 2 AC EVSE
The availability of more sophisticated computer hardware
also allows Level 2 EVSE to include more safety protections
for charging than most Level 1 EVSE. Like Level 1 EVSE,
Level 2 EVSE interface with PEVs via a five-lead connector
following the SAE J1772 protocol. Three of the leads,
typically denoted as L1, L2, and GND, are connected to
supply power from the electric grid and are only separated
from a direct grid-to-PEV connection through relays internal
to the EVSE. A combination of three directly connected
voltage taps and three non-invasive current transformer
sensors are used to provide the main computer hardware of
the EVSE with information about the power delivered to a
connected vehicle, allowing for metering that is used to
calculate charge session cost. The other two leads are the pilot
line and the proximity line. The proximity line connects only
to a simple resistor network within the EVSE plug, rather than
its main housing, and it is used by the PEV to determine if a
good connection has been made. The proximity circuit does
not typically communicate with EVSE computer hardware in
any way, although some models include electronic
components in the circuit that prevent a “good connection”
reading on the PEV-end when the EVSE is not ready to
charge. The more important lead is the pilot line, which the
EVSE and PEV use to communicate with each other. When a
station is idling, a 12V DC voltage signal is applied to the
pilot line, but when a PEV completes the circuit through a
physical connection, the EVSE senses this action through a
voltage detector and switches a source generating a 12V
amplitude 1kHz square wave onto the pilot line. An electrical
circuit in the PEV consisting of switches and resistors
responds to EVSE when the square-wave is detected and the
EVSE is able to begin a charge cycle. Should an electrical
problem arise on the grid-side of the EVSE or should the user
suddenly disconnect their vehicle from EVSE in the middle
of a charging session, EVSE computer hardware will open the
relays within a fraction of a second, “depowering” the adapter
to prevent user injury.
Figure 2: The cyber-physical interaction between the
EVSE and the PEV
The computer and sensor hardware of Level 3 EVSE is
like that of Level 2 EVSE. The two primary types of DC fast
charging stations available in the US are those that utilize the
combined charging standard (CCS) expansion to SAE J1772
and those following the Japanese CHAdeMO protocol, with
Tesla Motor’s proprietary Super Chargers, which only work
with their own vehicles, being the third most influential. The
main differences between Level 2 and Level 3 EVSE come
down to charger circuit location, method of PEV-EVSE wired
communication, and physical adapter design. Although the
term “charger” is often erroneously used to refer to EVSE in
publications, including within this paper, all commercially
available Level 3 EVSE contain AC-DC rectifiers and other
charging circuitry within the EVSE itself, whereas Level 2
charging requires such circuitry to be within the PEV. The
physical connectors for CCS EVSE are essentially modified
SAE J1772 connectors that include two large pins that are
used for DC power delivery. CCS EVSE can utilize the pilot
line in a similar way to Level 2 EVSE, although the conductor
can also be repurposed for power line communication (PLC)
with the smart grid. CHAdeMO EVSE connectors feature a
similar set of two large pins to the CCS adapter, but they also
have a higher number of pins in total. Three of these pins are
charge session control pins that function similarly to the pilot
line of SAE J1772, but two of the pins are instead used for
facilitating controller area network (CAN) communication
with vehicles, allowing for more complex wired
communication [10].
III. T
YPES OF
A
TTACKS
An attack surface is an entry point where a multitude of
attacks may be launched. There are two different categories
of entry points that could be used to compromise the security
of an EVSE; namely, network-based entry points and
physical access points, such as through the charging port or
by tampering with the devices’ hardware.
A. Network-based Attacks
Level 2 and Level 3 chargers are typically equipped with
some communication module with either a wireless (i.e.
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular, etc.) or wired interface. This
communication module enables authorized drivers to initiate
a charge session and communicate the status of charge
session back to the station operator. This communication
happens either through modules in the vehicle, smart phone,
or an RFID card. The vulnerabilities for both short range and
long-range communications are well documented in literature
[11-14]. Compromising the security of any of these network
endpoints (i.e. BEMS, controller server, and station operation
interface) due to poor authentication or lack of encryption has
the potential to affect all the charging stations connected to
the end node. This has the potential to compromise the
confidentiality, and integrity of both data and control
commands, affecting the availability of the charging station,
the charging station controller (or management interface), the
BEMS server, and/or the power grid.
The following are the list of network-based attacks:
Spoofing Attacks: Most wireless communication
protocol-based communications (e.g. RFID, Bluetooth
and Wi-Fi) are prone to spoofing attacks. One common
form of this attack is to compromise the device’s unique
identifier (such as a MAC address) and masquerade as a
legitimate user. This typically happens before the
encryption is established and keys are generated.
Spoofing attacks typically have the ability to (a)
compromise the user’s identity, thereby affecting the
user’s privacy, especially pertaining to any of the user’s
personal information, (b) modify data transmitted,
thereby affecting the integrity of data exchanged. To
create a more serious cyber-physical system based attack
would be implemented by using the user’s identity, and
the charging station advanced programming interface to
launch a DoS attack that affects the availability of the
charging station.
Man-in-the-Middle Attack: With this attack type, the
attacker tries to jam the receiver while still being able to
access the transmitted traffic, allowing the attacker to act
as a relay between the sender and receiver without either
party’s knowledge. Most radio-based communications
are also prone to man-in-the-middle attacks. These
attacks may occur between the nodes (e.g. EVSE, PEV,
BEMS); the attacker essentially has the ability to corrupt
the data, or take complete control over the node, and alter
the status of one of these nodes to relay incorrect
information (e.g., providing incorrect status information
for a charging station). If the communications or the
source code is not obfuscated or encrypted, man-in-the-
middle attacks can be launched easily.
Denial-of-Service: Compromised user and station
credentials may be used to launch very sophisticated
DOS attacks. For example, user credentials can be used
to launch DOS attacks against nodes. Attack variants to
consider are UDP or TCP/IP flood, low-rate DOS, ping
flood, or ICMP flood. These attacks are capable of taking
down a charging station or other nodes in the charging
station ecology.
SQL-Injection Attack: This attack type exploits poor
database implementation to insert, update, or delete
database data. This would allow an attacker to execute
commands that affects users’ ability to charge, modify
the location data for charging stations, or change the
status of a station’s availability, any of which could
create major distress and cause public safety issues.
Malware Attack: Poor security implementation of various
software modules in the charging station and the cloud
may be exploited to launch more sophisticated attacks
that install malware. Malware with with the potential to
launch a more coordinated attack could lead to both the
shutdown of a network of charging stations or even affect
the power grid by activating numerous charging stations
simultaneously.
B. Physical Attacks
An attacker with physical access to an EVSE could
theoretically probe the charging station board to eavesdrop on
inter-component communications. This can be done by
physically tampering with the charging station if the tamper
resistance is weak. Since each EVSE may have a different
architecture, the attacker would need to study different
components, understand various communication modules
within the charging station, and have both a microcontroller
and various sniffing/probing tools to gain any valuable
information from their physical access to the charging station.
The complexity of the architecture varies greatly between
EVSE. All Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations have a
microcontroller to control the functions required by an EVSE,
and many are equipped with a Real Time Operating System
(RTOS), typically running Linux-kernel. Various hardware
tools exist to extract firmware through Universal
Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter (UART) or Joint Test
Action Group (JTAG) interfaces. Specific types of attacks
include the following:
Physical & Side-channel attacks: Physical attacks involve
getting access to the chip-level components in order to
manipulate and interfere with the system internals. In
conjunction with this attack type, there are also Side-
channel attacks that involves reverse engineering a chip
by observing the timing information, power
consumption, and electromagnetic leaks. Using this
information, it is possible to retrieve sensitive data, such
as encryption keys used in communications or data being
communicated throughout the electronics. These attacks
are very hard to implement and require expensive
equipment.
Interception-based attacks: This type of attack involves
eavesdropping on sensitive data to compromise user’s
privacy and confidentiality. This is accomplished by
using probing techniques to access and monitor the data
on the ports of the physical hardware. In addition, i can
also be used to intercept a pushed update to the EVSE
and potentially alter the update before being flashed to
the system.
Modification attacks: This attack type compromises
software integrity by exploiting detected vulnerabilities.
For example, the act of using a buffer overflow to
overwrite stack memory, thereby transferring control to
malicious program, would constitute as a modification
attack
C. Hybrid Attacks
By using various permutations of network and physical
attacks, it is possible to launch even more sophisticated
attacks. For instance, should an attacker have access to the
cloud service, an EVSE could be authorized to start a
charging session with an unauthorized vehicle. For EVSE that
lack properly implemented SAE J1772 protocol-based PEV-
EVSE handshaking upon contact, physically modifying the
EVSE’s adapter plug allows a Level 2 charging session to be
activated without the presence of a vehicle. Combining these
two attacks allows a charging station adapter plug to be
energized remotely, which could either enable non-PEV
devices to receive energy through the EVSE or, more
seriously, potentially electrocute the next patron of the
station.
The different attacks that can be formed from the
combination of physical and cyber network attacks are
diverse and numerous, with many such attacks being
incredibly detrimental to the normal operation of an EVSE
and the safety of its users.
IV. A
PPROACHES TO
I
MPROVE
CPS
S
ECURITY
Charging stations are being deployed very widely, with
limited standards for securing this infrastructure. Given that
charging station security and availability indirectly affects
both the power grid and the transportation sector, it is
important to have strong cybersecurity guidelines to
implement them. Some of the guidelines were adopted from
the embedded system security best practices, but most of
these are unique to charging stations.
A. Secure by Design
Designing a secure charging station goes well beyond
securing individual system components. This is because
charging stations interface with multiple systems, including
vehicles, smart phones, energy infrastructure, and the cloud.
This naturally expands the threat vectors that could be
potentially exploited by attackers. The security design of
charging station should identify all the threat vectors (both
cyber and physical) as well as the vulnerabilities and the risk
that these threats would pose to people, vehicles, and
infrastructure. The design should include both hardware and
software components. EVSE designers need to factor in the
variety of possible threats and consider appropriate mitigation
strategies. Various graphical and formal models such as
Petrinets, data flow diagrams, discrete-event simulations,
CPS models [14-17] can be used to both verify and evaluate
the safety and security properties of the design. In addition,
there needs to be clean isolation on the hardware and software
to prevent unauthorized access or eavesdropping of protected
information and control signals.
B. Software Security
The software in charging station includes software running on
the board that sends control signals to the charging station,
the charging station management interface, the mobile
applications, and application programming interface
provided by the charging stations. Most charging stations also
provide a charging station server that communicates with the
station over the internet. Secure by design principles applies
to the software architecture for charging station to identify the
security loopholes that make these systems vulnerable [14].
Given the complex and tight integration of hardware and
software, some of the software attacks could also be done
through hardware. Many countermeasures are available to
authenticate and validate software at different steps such as
preventing software tampering, and securing bootstrapping.
C. Hardware Security
The microprocessors used in charging stations typically have
low computational power that prevents them from
implementing strong encryption. Adding secure co-
processors like cryptographic hardware accelerators [15] will
prevent tampering of hardware. Secure co-processors provide
high performance crypto support that stores keys much more
securely, despite foreseeable physical or logical attacks. The
Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS 140-2)
provides four levels of physical security implementation
guidelines that could be adopted to design rigorous hardware
security.
D. Tamper Monitoring and Resistance
Malicious software can exploit software and operating system
loopholes to install malware that will affect the normal
operation of the system. Tamper resistance measures to
protect against physical and side-channel attacks include
physical protection to prevent tampering, BUS encryption,
circuit implementation where the power characteristics are
data independent, and aggressive shielding of chips on the
board. In addition to tamper protection, it is also important to
monitor and log critical activities to both prevent and
investigate cyber-security related vulnerabilities.
V. C
ONCLUSION
Currently there are many open issues to resolve in
ensuring the securing of the process of charging electric
vehicles with their respective EVSEs. Attacks (either cyber
or physical in nature) against a PEV or its surrounding
infrastructure, including EVSE and the power grid, could
have bad consequences in terms of affecting safe and secure
charging process. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to
secure both the hardware and software of the overall cyber-
physical system for smart charging by developing hardware
and software more resilient to attack and exploitation.
A
CKNOWLEDGMENT
The project team acknowledges the support of DOE and
INL for support of this work.
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... To support such ancillary backup services, as well as to charge their battery resources, EVs connect to the electric grid via charging stations. According to [75], EV charging stations (EVCS) perform the following tasks. First, they authenticate the vehicles, and then they either charge them or connect them to the main grid where they can be utilized as adhoc energy storage. ...
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... Cyberattack methods are examined in four different attack layers and it is given as a diagram of which attacks can occur in which layer. The purpose here is to take security measures against possible attacks (Gottumukkala et al., 2019;Fraiji et al., 2018;Özarpa, 2021;Huang,2011). ...
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Penetration of pure electric vehicles (EVs) in smart microgrids makes it essential to optimally manage their charging patterns and provide some ancillary services such as peak-load reduction, congestion management, frequency regulation, management of uncertainties associated with renewable energy sources, and zero exhaust emissions. These functionalities depend on the cyber-physical security of data collected from various EVs management centers. Hence, this chapter addresses the cyber-physical challenges of the EVs smart charging systems, the attack patterns and impacts in power grids, and the attacker-defender model.KeywordsCybersecurityData privacyElectric vehicles (EVs)Smart microgridElectric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE)Charging patternsAncillary servicesCyber-physical securityCyber-physical challengesDataEVs management centersAttack patternsAttack impactsPower gridsAttacker-defender model
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