DOE launches three new initiatives to safeguard energy system

Published on March 22, 2021 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) is launching three new research programs to safeguard the U.S. energy system.

These new programs will address potential global supply chain security vulnerabilities, seek to protect critical infrastructure from electromagnetic and geomagnetic interference, and establish a research and talent pipeline for cybersecurity.

“Our energy system faces unprecedented threat levels from hackers, foreign actors, and natural catastrophes supercharged by climate change—which is why enhancing security is a priority for this administration,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “What’s more, President Biden’s clean energy goals all depend on resilient electrical infrastructure. These new programs will help put us a step ahead of all manner of threats so we can provide safe, reliable power to American households.”

To provide security against vulnerabilities in globally-sourced technologies, CESER is joining Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories to launch the Cyber Testing for Resilient Industrial Control System program. This program will utilize analytics to test the various digital tools used by energy sector partners for security issues. The testing will make it easier to identify and address potential vulnerabilities within industrial control systems.

To develop solutions to electromagnetic and geomagnetic interference, the DOE is collaborating with various utilities and labs on efforts to test, model, and assess systemic vulnerabilities to electromagnetic and geomagnetic interference. As part of the DOE’s Lab Call for EMP/GMD Assessments, Testing, and Mitigation, nine pilot projects are already underway. This research will inform the development of methods to mitigate the impacts on energy infrastructure.

Finally, through CESER’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) division, DOE is tapping into the innovative capacity of American universities to develop new cybersecurity technologies and train the next generation of cybersecurity experts employed by the energy sector. CESER plans to announce a new funding opportunity to support university-industry partnerships around cyber and physical solutions.

“Securing U.S. critical infrastructure, particularly in the energy sector, is one our most important and complex national security challenges,” CESER Acting Assistant Secretary Patricia Hoffman said. “Our vision with these programs is to bring together key partners—from industry to the states to universities—with the expertise and inventiveness needed to enhance energy sector resilience.”