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Virginia Tech awarded EV cybersecurity grant

Cybersecurity solutions for electric vehicles

EV charging network is seen as critical infrastructure that requires protection

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Virginia Tech a US$3 million grant for research on electric vehicle charging infrastructure cybersecurity as part of a larger US$80 million investment by the department on advanced technologies research.

Ryan Gerdes, assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, will lead the research collaboration of university and industry researchers, vehicle and charger manufacturers, and a utility operator to develop comprehensive solutions that will mitigate or eliminate these threats and ensure the reliability of electric transportation.

“We will work to develop systems to protect the infrastructure for fast charging: controllers, converters, and monitoring systems. In addition, we will address user privacy by using secure sensing and ‘smart’ defense systems,” said Gerdes. “The process will deploy remote updates to successfully address system vulnerability. We look forward to testing the technologies on a real-world testbed that includes an extremely fast charging unit and battery electric vehicle situated in a microgrid.”

With OnBoard Security, an industry leader in automotive cybersecurity solutions, Gerdes and team will assess overall EV charging units and hardware designs. Collectively, the team then will provide recommendations for more resilient charging systems and create new software and charging architectures that will ensure a safer and guaranteed remediation of vulnerabilities while respecting user privacy.

“Electric vehicles are potentially vulnerable to attacks via the charging stations that could lead to stolen personal and financial information, vehicle damage, or even attacks on the electrical grid,” explained Jonathan Petit, senior director of research at OnBoard Security.

The research grant represents the type of translational research in cybersecurity envisioned by the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). By bringing together federal funding and industry partnerships, university researchers are able to tackle key challenges in the cyber domain and have paths to market for the resulting technologies.

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