Cyber security in electric mobility

It’s an exciting time for electric transport. The rise of electric vehicles promises new and innovative ways of powering the way societies move. From enabling autonomous driving to interoperability with the electricity grid infrastructure and smart charging, there’s plenty to be optimistic about.

Yet, as more public and private transport becomes electric there are risks that need to be managed. Among these is cyber security, which is set be an important part of a resilient electric transport network.

This article breaks down cybersecurity in e-mobility, and how to protect energy and transport sectors from hackers and other potential threats.

The shift to e-mobility and digitization

The shift from internal combustion engine cars to e-mobility presents abundant opportunities for the advancement of cleaner cities, cutting carbon emissions and integrating more renewables into the grid.

But by making transport smart, the risk of being compromised by cyber threats such as hackers is concerning. In digitizing parts of the transport network that used to be mechanical, and interlinking it with the electricity grid and smart buildings, EV manufacturers have inadvertently created a target that could potentially be exploited to derail or damage these networks.

More and more vehicle types are becoming electric and - through the internet of things (IoT) - smart. This includes passenger trains, heavy goods vehicles, public transit buses, trucks, and corporate fleets. Society largely depends on many of these vehicles for goods, services and of course transportation.

Taking necessary steps to protect these EVs will mean governments, Public Transport Authorities, mobility providers and manufacturers, will need to invest in cybersecurity to mitigate the risks that a hackable eMobility sector poses.

Cyber Security and electric transport: what are the risks?

There are a number of possible risks involved in the growing digitization of transport.

The most obvious of these being disruptions to public transport and the effective inability to move people around a city if eBuses or trains were to be targeted.

While this is certainly an inconvenience that would put eFleet operators our of pocket, and add stress and delays to public journeys, there are in fact other, more dramatic risks that could evolve from poor security and improper management of EVs.

An attack on eFleets could lead to a disruption to delivery trucks or oil tankers, and an inability restock supermarket shelves with essential goods.

Perhaps an even more serious risk is the potential hacking of devices and infrastructure connected to EVs, such as chargers and even power plants. This poses a particular vulnerable point for electrified vehicle networks. Interconnectivity can be a huge asset to the future of grid management and electric infrastructure with technologies like bi-directional charging and smart buildings being adopted. But it also means that a cyber attack on one area could threaten the entire network and effectively disable or disrupt power systems.

Protecting the electricity grid

Fortunately, as EVs become a larger part of the energy system, efforts are being made to safeguard and protect the cars, chargers and associated network infrastructure from cyber threats.

There are a number of steps that can be incorporated into transport strategies and manufacturing processes to minimise risks.

Some of these include:

•      Enforcing safeguards: a lot of onboard software for EVs will require continual security and navigation software updates, which will need dedicated communication links back to the manufacturer to transmit patches and updates. This will become even more commonplace as autonomous vehicles are more widely used, and is an ideal time for a regular health-check on onboard system security.  

•      Establishing security standards: already, projects are underway to ensure there are  sophisticated threat models to deal the type of non-conventional attacks that are bound to arise with e-vehicles - one example of this is the Digital Infrastructure for Futureproof Mobility project, of which Heliox is a project partner.

•      Requiring digital signatures: similar to logging in to personal digital devices, electric vehicle infrastructure could require  communication controls that provide critical confidentiality and accountability for transmitting messages and data. Similarly, making sure that all vehicle data and engine control communications are strongly encrypted will be vital to protect from hacking threats.

•       Secure energy management and monitoring: this is an important part of protecting both the grid from unstable charging practices, and eFleet businesses from high energy costs. By balancing businesses’ energy needs and consumption with the ability to reduce risk through efficient monitoring and energy management that tracks energy usage and security.

Energy management and monitoring

It’s clear that, if not managed correctly, electric vehicles can have a negative impact on the electricity grid, exposing potential cyberthreats or misusing grid electricity - effectively slowing down the energy transition.

An early - and efficient - way to protect the grid while expanding electric mobility is through energy management and monitoring.

With Heliox products and services support EVs and fleet operators and help grid operators with reliable and secure energy delivery. One of the key ways in which Heliox delivers this is through BlanaceInPower - an  an industry-leading energy management system that allows companies to reduce their charging costs and contribute to the green energy economy with smart charging.

Scaling the share of renewables into a new, greener energy supply, is a challenge for the grid and - if mismanaged - could cause blackouts, brownouts or interruption in energy supply, That’s why current energy systems are evolving in ways that incorporate smart, digitized energy management and demand response, such as Heliox BalanceInPower solution.

The two key benefits of BalanceInPower are it’s forecasting capabilities and data monitoring technologies - which offer peace of mind to eFleet managers and grid operators.

By forecasting the exact times of shortages and surpluses, BalanceInPower identifies the most optimal  times to charge your electric vehicles on a minute- by-minute basis. This not only   reduces the grid imbalance to help stabilize the grid but also avoids charging at costly peak times.

To learn more about our energy management and monitoring services offer, visit or contact Heliox to speak to one of our experts.

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