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DOE to develop 3 cybersecurity programs to protect the energy system


Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) announced it will develop three new research programs to safeguard the U.S. energy system from cyber and physical hazards. Accordingly, the Office will ramp up protections on three different matters: global supply chain vulnerabilities, protection from interference, and next-generation cybersecurity.

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DOE on its new cybersecurity programs

Earlier last week, DOE CESER announced it will develop three new cybersecurity research programs. Therefore, the Department aims to ramp up protections from growing cyber and physical hazards.

Accordingly, the three programs will focus on (1) addressing potential global supply chain security vulnerabilities, (2) protecting critical infrastructure from electromagnetic/geomagnetic interference, and (3) building a research pipeline for next-generation cybersecurity.

In a press conference, Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm noted these efforts answer to “unprecedented threat levels from hackers, foreign actors, and natural catastrophes supercharged by climate change.” Besides, the Secretary said a “resilient electrical infrastructure” is a crucial aspect of President Biden’s clean energy goals.

Therefore, the new programs will seek to secure against vulnerabilities in globally-sourced technologies; develop solutions to electromagnetic and geomagnetic interference; and cultivate research on cybersecurity solutions and new talent needed to deploy.

The programs

Consequently, the first program will need CESER to enhance security by “joining with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. Indeed, in the Cyber Testing for Resilient Industrial Control System (CyTRICST) program. Thus, this partnership will use state-of-the-art analytics to test various digital tools; mainly used by energy sector partners for security issues. Therefore, this “will make it easier to identify and address potential vulnerabilities within industrial control systems before bad actors can exploit them.”

On the other hand, the second program will assess risks including “electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks. Also, devastating geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) events. In fact, both risks could overload and damage energy systems. In this regard, DOE notes that it is already “collaborating with various utilities and labs on efforts to test, model, and assess systemic vulnerabilities.” However, additional research “will inform the development of methods for protecting and mitigating impacts [of EMP and GMD events] on energy infrastructure.”

Finally, the third program will require DOE to “tap into the innovative capacity of American universities; this, to develop new cybersecurity technologies. Besides, to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts employed by the energy sector,” including through new funding opportunities.

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