Public Plug-in Electric Vehicles + Grid Data: Is a New Cyberattack Vector Viable?

Samrat Acharya, Yury Dvorkin, Ramesh Karri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-wattage demand-side appliances such as Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) are proliferating. As a result, information on the charging patterns of PEVs is becoming accessible via smartphone applications, which aggregate real-time availability and historical usage of public PEV charging stations. Moreover, information on the power grid infrastructure and operations has become increasingly available in technical documents and real-time dashboards of the utilities, affiliates, and the power grid operators. The research question that this study explores is: Can one combine high-wattage demand-side appliances with public information to launch cyberattacks on the power grid? To answer this question and report a proof of concept demonstration, the study scrapes data from public sources for Manhattan, NY, USA using the electric vehicle charging station smartphone application and the power grid data circulated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New York Independent System Operator, and the local utility in New York. It then designs a novel data-driven cyberattack strategy using state-feedback based partial eigenvalue relocation, which targets frequency stability of the power grid. The study establishes that while such an attack is not possible at the current penetration level of PEVs, it will be practical once the number of PEVs increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9091609
Pages (from-to)5099-5113
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Cybersecurity
  • electric vehicles
  • electric vehicles charging stations
  • public information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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