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DOE to aid development of next-generation cyber tools to safeguard grid

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Dive Brief:

  • Facing an evergrowing threat to the nations power grid, the U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday announced it’ll direct $45 million to aid around 15 next-generation cybersecurity research, development, and demonstration projects.
  • Funding will undoubtedly be offered through DOEs Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response and can concentrate on developing new cybersecurity tools and technologies made to reduce cyber risks for energy delivery infrastructure, based on the announcement.
  • The UNITED STATES Electric Reliability Corp.in July said that reports of cyber incidents including vulnerabilities, phishing, malware, denial of service among others more than doubled in 2021. While reliability was maintained, the business warned that nation-state adversaries and organized cyber criminals be capable of disrupt critical infrastructure.

Dive Insight:

The electric grid is now more automated as clean energy technologies are deployed, DOE said, making cybersecurity important.

Researchers will try to develop tools and technologies that enable energy systems to autonomously recognize a cyberattack, try to prevent it, and automatically isolate and eradicate it without disruption to energy delivery, the agency said.

The funding announcement lays out six proposed areas for research, including automated prevention and mitigation solutions that could enable energy systems to autonomously recognize and stop cyberattacks from disrupting energy.

Other topics of study include: security by design;stronger energy sector authentication mechanisms;automated discovery of vulnerabilities in energy delivery control system applications;advanced software solutions; and the integration of new concepts with existing infrastructure.This last area will demand applicants to partner with energy asset owners and operators to validate and demonstrate cutting-edge cybersecurity technology could be retrofitted into existing infrastructure, DOE said in the funding opportunity announcement.

As DOE builds out Americas clean energy infrastructure, this funding provides the various tools for a solid, resilient, and secure electricity grid that may withstand modern cyberthreats and deliver energy to every pocket of America, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

Concept papers are due Sept. 12 and full applications should be submitted by Dec.5, based on the funding announcement. DOE hopes to create final awards in June.

NERCs State of Reliability report last month noted that in the years ahead, industry must continue steadily to integrate cyber and physical security considerations with conventional power system planning, operations, design, and restoration practices.

Cyberattacks routinely targeted the digital supply chain in 2021, but up to now the industrys security has organized, the report said.

Were performing a good job at our hygiene and setting certain standards once and for all cyber performance, NERCs Director of Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis John Moura said. The cybersecurity landscape relentlessly evolves, and presents continuing challenges to the electric industry.

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