The protocols and controls that protect EV home chargers

EV home charger security

Home chargers typically use a secured connection over an encrypted wireless protocol such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Secure authentication by the user is also required in order to access the charge point or allow charging to take place.

However, the risk of hacking, and unauthorised use, is always there.

Smart chargers intended for home charging must meet security requirements consistent with the existing cyber security standard ETSI EN 303 645.

ETSI EN 303 645 is a European Union standard for secure communication protocols for smart chargers. It defines the type of communication that must occur between a charger and an energy management system in order to ensure secure transactions.

The standard outlines physical, communication, data exchange and safety requirements, as well as security mechanisms. It also sets out the protocol for negotiating transaction parameters and transmitting charging requests.

This article runs through the protocols and controls that protect EV home chargers.

EV home charger security risks

Although EV smart chargers are relatively secure, they are not without risk. Home charger security attacks can occur in several ways:

  • Physical attack: Criminals could attempt to forcibly access the charger with tools, attempting to gain access to the connection cables.
  • Cyber-attacks: Cyber criminals can exploit security holes in the system or Internet of Things (IoT) components used by smart chargers and related systems to either control or monitor activity. This could result in disruptions or distortions to the charging process, or even theft of electricity at the owner’s expense
  • Unauthorized access: Unauthorized persons could connect their vehicle to a public charge station without authorization, thus stealing electricity.

In some cases, it is possible for criminals to remotely control the charging process and cause safety incidents, such as overheating of electrical components or fire risk due to incorrect wiring.

Therefore, it is important that users always use original wiring and cabling and also ensure their EV charger is properly installed and configured, following any manufacturer’s instructions.

What security protocols do EV home chargers have?

EV smart chargers typically employ a range of security protocols, depending on the model of charger. Generally, these protocols can include:

  • Secure authentication: This feature prevents unauthorized access to charging data and/or prevents unauthorized charging events. Oftentimes, this is done via traditional authentication protocols such as username/password credentials.
  • Secure communication: This protocol ensures secure transmission of communication between the charger and mobile devices, using encryption to keep data hidden from potential eavesdroppers.
  • Data protection: An advanced cryptographic process known as Elliptic Curve Cryptography is used to encrypt data transmissions between the charge point and the cloud ensuring the data remains secure during the entire charging transaction.
  • Tamper protection: This protocol enables a charger to recognize when it has been tampered with in any way, such as having its power supply disconnected or its wiring interfered with. When such tampering is detected, the charger will flag an alert and/or automatically stop any ongoing activity.

Are EV home chargers secure from hacking?

EV home chargers are generally secure from hacking as many of them employ the same security protocols used by large institutions.

This includes encrypted transmission methods, secure authentication and protection from tampering.

Related: How to choose an EV home charger

Additionally, the data being transmitted between the charger and the cloud is encrypted using Elliptic Curve Cryptography which makes it incredibly hard for potential hackers to access.

Therefore, users can rest assured that their EV charger is secure from unauthorized access, providing their charger is properly configured and regularly maintained.

What security loopholes leave an EV home charger open to hackers?

Despite employing advanced security protocols, any device connected to the Internet is at risk of being hacked. Therefore, the potential for an EV home charger to be hacked is still present.

The most common security loophole leading to potential hacks happens when users fail to keep their systems updated with the latest versions of firmware and software. Criminals can exploit vulnerabilities present in an outdated version of the system in order to gain access.

Additionally, users should be wary of allowing others access to their charge point – either remotely or in person – as they may attempt to manipulate the system in a malicious manner.

If a user shares their access credentials with someone they do not trust, it can open up a backdoor for a hacker to gain access to the charger and manipulate it as they please – potentially bricking the unit.

Alfred drives a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus but has his eye on a fully-electric pick-up truck. He'd love an electric Ford Ranger, which should be a real thing in a few years!