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New European cyber security requirements for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure are designed to stop hackers from triggering blackouts through poorly protected chargers.

The requirements were launched by industry bodies European Network of Cyber Security (ENCS) and European Distribution System Operators’ Association for Smart Grids (E.DSO) to minimise this “little known” risk associated with EV chargers.

The requirements provide governments and distribution network operators with a practical set of guidelines when buying EV chargers, and standardise security benchmarks across Europe.

The new standards are already in use by Dutch EV charging innovation centre ElaadNL which has established more than 3000 public charging stations across the Netherlands.

ElaadNL managing director Onoph Caron says that compromising EV charging in the future could be as disruptive as compromising a power plant.

From a security standpoint, the potential impact of EVs on the grid simply can’t be understated, ENCS managing director Anjos Nijk adds.

“By 2020, there’s expected to be nearly 200,000 EV chargers installed [across Europe],” he says.

“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.”

In October, the US Department of Energy awarded research university Virginia Tech a $US3 million grant for research on electric vehicle charging infrastructure cybersecurity – which includes a focus on protecting personal driver info.

As well as affecting the grid, cyber-attacks via the charging stations could lead to stolen personal and financial information and vehicle damage, says Jonathan Petit, senior director of research at cybersecurity firm and project collaborator OnBoard Security.

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