University of Louisiana at Lafayette: Testing system-level vulnerabilities of electric vehicles and connected systems

The Cyber-physical systems laboratory at the engineering department at University of Louisiana at Lafayette Engineering Department is conducting research on cybersecurity related issues relevant to smart charging.

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Both electric vehicles and charging stations have Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) that consume data from different sensors and control various processes in the vehicles and charging stations. The growing connectedness of vehicles and charging stations to the Internet and the building energy management systems and power grid could post cyber-security risks to critical infrastructures like the smart grid. The Cyber-physical systems laboratory at UL Lafayette is looking at investigating the system level vulnerabilities both at the hardware and software level, and also building better security for reliable and resilient cyber-physical systems.

Dr. Raju Gottumukkala is the Director of Research for the Infomatics Research Institute.
Dr. Raju Gottumukkala speaks at Louisiana Clean Fuels Annual Stakeholder Meeting & Awards Ceremony in 2017. He is the Director of Research for the Infomatics Research Institute at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, as well as an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

The Cyber-physical systems laboratory at the engineering department at University of Louisiana at Lafayette Engineering Department is conducting research on cybersecurity related issues relevant to smart charging. Specifically, the team is looking at investigating the cybersecurity issues related to electric vehicles and charging stations donated to them by the U.S. Department of Energy, and sponsored by the Department of Energy and Idaho National Laboratory.

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The project team is investigating hardware and software vulnerabilities of both the electric vehicle and charging station. For example, the CAN (Controller Area Network) bus that interconnects various components in the vehicle is inherently insecure and it is possible for any Electrical Control Unit (ECU) in the vehicle to listen and send messages to other ECU’s in the vehicle. Similarly, there are known vulnerabilities in the charging stations where it would be possible for hackers to log into charging stations to manage and control the charging station. Given that these cyber components (i.e. sensors, communications and computers) are controlling the electro-mechanical systems it is theoretically possible to steal identities, unauthorized use of resources such as electricity or pose safety risk both for vehicles and charging stations.

The award their team received in 2017 for “Innovative Project of the Year.”
The award their team received in 2017 for “Innovative Project of the Year.”

The project team has custom built tools to investigate how different vehicles and charging stations respond to different electric signals and commands, and how, and what type of information is transmitted between different components in the charging stations and electric vehicles. The project team is also developing methods to develop better trust and evaluating system level cyber security risk and methods to better authenticate IoT devices with vehicles and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).

While the team is still conducting their research, they have already made some exciting discoveries. Once the program concludes, the findings will enable companies to make adjustments to their systems in order to ensure the continued security of our connected buildings, smart grid and electric vehicles.

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