NIST EV Charging Infrastructure Cybersecurity Mission Objectives

This blog post is part one of a two-part series examining NIST's proposed cybersecurity framework for EV charging infrastructure. Read part two, discussing necessary cybersecurity functions for EV charging infrastructure, here.

Since the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- NIST -- has been responsible for identifying and developing cybersecurity frameworks for critical infrastructure owners and operators. In line with that mission, and in response to the growing threat of cyberattacks on EV charging infrastructure, NIST has now promulgated a proposed cybersecurity framework for EV charging infrastructure. With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act committing to expand the count of EV charging stations to 500,000 by the year 2030, implementing this cybersecurity framework will be important for all involved parties.

The standard outlines four key mission objectives: Deliver reliable performance through secure communications, maintain resilience of the EV charging infrastructure, build and maintain trustworthy partner relations, and maintain continuity of operations. In this post we'll take a look at each of those mission objectives as viewed by EV charging infrastructure expert Dominic Marcellino. (Be sure to watch the whole video with Dominic, right below, for an even more in-depth discussion!)

The Role of Secure Communications in EV Charging Infrastructure

The successful integration of EVs into mainstream transportation hinges on the availability of robust and secure charging networks. NIST's directive to deliver reliable performance through secure communications serves as a linchpin in this transformation, shaping the landscape of electric vehicle infrastructure for generations to come.

With its core premise of cybersecurity through segregation from the open public internet, private networking will be an important component of the EV charging infrastructure. This separation is achieved through the utilization of private IP addresses—an integral facet of secure communications. Unlike public IP addresses that are susceptible to external threats, private IP addresses are concealed from the broader internet, rendering them impervious to unauthorized access attempts.

Furthermore, the protective mechanisms inherent in private networks fortify communication channels. The establishment of managed firewalls ensures that data entering and leaving the charging stations is subject to rigorous scrutiny. This firewall acts as a gatekeeper, filtering out potentially malicious traffic and safeguarding the integrity of the charging infrastructure.

NIST's guidelines extend beyond immediate communication security, delving into thwarting nefarious actions that may target the charging infrastructure. These actions could originate from compromised end devices or even the broader public internet seeking unauthorized access. Private networks, with their architecture built around private IP space and segregated environments, erect formidable barriers against such incursions.

Kajeet's Sentinel® platform has long had private IP addressing and a managed firewall built in, preventing attacks down to device-level. In fact, these features have already been designed and built into Sentinel for over a decade -- and we're constantly iterating, enhancing, and improving them, with the background infrastructure and filtering capabilities to block access to particular aspects of the Internet. These capabilities come from our background providing cybersecure-connectivity for children -- but as we've begun to work with companies in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure world, they've been able to take advantage of the capabilities that we have.

Maintaining Resilience of the EV Charging Infrastructure

The mission objective to maintain the resilience of the EV charging infrastructure is underscored by the critical need to ensure seamless operations even in the face of challenges. This resilience encompasses the capacity of charging stations to stay operational and deliver energy consistently, as well as the ability of operators to swiftly address issues when they arise.

Resilience is more than just a technical attribute—it's a guarantee to consumers that they can rely on the EV charging network to meet their needs reliably. Through applying NIST's cybersecurity framework, operators gain insights into mechanisms for diagnosing and resolving potential disruptions. Private networks, in parallel, offer backup solutions, such as wireless connectivity, that augment the overall network's ability to weather interruptions and maintain continuous service.

A key factor in maintaining resilience is the ability to remotely monitor the status of charging stations. NIST's guidelines emphasize the importance of real-time monitoring systems that provide information about charging station availability, status, and any potential malfunctions. Such systems enable operators to proactively address issues and ensure that drivers have access to functioning charging stations.

Moreover, the partnership between connectivity providers and others in the EV charging infrastructure space plays a pivotal role in enhancing resilience. Appropriate connectivity offers not only secure communication channels but also redundancy solutions. This redundancy involves having multiple communication pathways, ensuring that even if one connection is compromised, the charging stations can still communicate with the central network and provide essential data. Redundancy reduces the risk of communication failures and enhances the network's ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

Kajeet solutions provide multi-carrier connectivity via every major cellular carrier in the United States -- so even in areas where landlines or fiber can be hard to come by, our EV charging infrastructure customers can always be sure that they can get their customers charged up and back on the road.

Ensuring Continuity of EV Charging Infrastructure Operations

Ensuring that EV charging stations remain operational, connected, and efficient is of course of paramount importance to the EV charging infrastructure overall. The ability of operators to monitor the status of charging stations in real-time, detect issues promptly, and resolve them efficiently contributes to the network's overall reliability.

The NIST standard outline strategies for maintaining continuity, including robust monitoring systems that provide real-time data about charging stations' status. These systems empower operators to respond swiftly to any anomalies and ensure that charging stations are available when needed. For instance, if a station goes offline or encounters a malfunction, operators can promptly dispatch technicians to address the issue, minimizing downtime.

And as we have already seen, multi-carrier connectivity further reinforce continuity by offering redundant communication channels. In the event of a communication failure, these networks can switch to backup connections, guaranteeing that charging stations remain accessible and operational. This redundancy aligns with NIST's emphasis on maintaining continuous operations and serves as a fail-safe mechanism to ensure that the network remains reliable under various circumstances.

As the EV charging infrastructure continues to expand, maintaining continuity becomes increasingly complex. The integration of charging stations with utilities, local energy storage solutions, and emerging technologies requires careful coordination. NIST's guidelines serve as a compass, providing operators with the insights needed to ensure that all components of the network work in harmony, contributing to the overarching objective of seamless operations.

Building and Maintaining Trustworthy Partner Relationships in the EV Charging Space

Trust forms the bedrock of any successful collaboration, and this NIST mission objective recognizes this as a foundational element for the EV charging ecosystem. Collaborations between stakeholders, including EV manufacturers, energy providers, and technology companies, demand a high degree of mutual trust. NIST's guidelines stress the importance of establishing, nurturing, and sustaining trustworthy partner relations to ensure that all facets of the network contribute to its reliability and security.

Building trust within the EV charging ecosystem involves clear communication, transparency, and a shared commitment to the network's goals. NIST's guidelines encourage stakeholders to establish clear lines of communication, define responsibilities, and outline processes for addressing challenges. By fostering an environment of open dialogue and accountability, trust is cultivated among partners.

Kajeet's solutions for EV charging infrastructure exemplify the application of this principle. Our commitment to data privacy and security, as well as our capacity to deliver secure communications, fosters a sense of trust among our customers and all other parties involved. This trust extends from the physical infrastructure to the digital communication channels, forging an interconnected network that's robust and dependable.

Additionally, building and maintaining trust involves continuous collaboration and information-sharing. Regular audits, assessments, and updates—recommended by NIST's guidelines—facilitate a proactive approach to security and reliability. By engaging in ongoing evaluations of the network's performance, partners can collectively address potential vulnerabilities and ensure that the EV charging infrastructure remains a trusted and reliable resource for all stakeholders.

Collaboration as a Catalyst for Change: EV Charging and Beyond

The synergy between NIST's rigorous standards, private network and connectivity providers like Kajeet, and other EV charging infrastructure stakeholders underscores the notion that profound change requires a collaborative ecosystem. The magnitude of modern challenges necessitates the convergence of expertise from various domains. NIST's mandate for secure infrastructure dovetails seamlessly with Kajeet's expertise in connectivity solutionss, amplifying the impact of their efforts.

The tapestry of the modern transportation landscape is intricately woven with threads of innovation, sustainability, and resilience. Electric vehicles represent a cornerstone of this evolving narrative, where the traditional internal combustion engine is gradually making way for cleaner, electric-powered alternatives. Yet, the successful transition to electric vehicles hinges on a foundational bedrock—the establishment of a secure, reliable, and accessible charging infrastructure.

NIST, as the vanguard of technological advancement, shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that this bedrock remains steadfast. Through meticulous standards that encompass secure communications, data privacy, continuity of operations, and more, the NIST cybersecurity framework helps to shape the trajectory of the electric vehicle charging network. The partnership with connectivity providers like Kajeet further reinforces the fabric of security and resilience, underscoring the collaborative spirit that's essential for propelling societal transformations.

In reaching for a future characterized by sustainable transportation, we're not merely embracing a change in vehicles; we're embracing a change in culture, behavior, and infrastructure. The NIST framework illuminates the path forward, revealing secure connections, reliable operations, and unwavering trust as necessary milestones. 

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