100 day review: another 52 electric cooperatives adopt NRECA cybersecurity technology

Published on August 02, 2021 by Chris Galford

© Shutterstock

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) reported last week that, as a 100-day federal electric sector cybersecurity initiative concluded, another 52 electric cooperatives have committed to using the organization’s Essence cybersecurity technology.

Essence allows users to share anonymized cybersecurity and threat data with government partners, advancing a joint public-private effort to evolve threat detection, mitigation, and forensic capabilities in the face of growing cyberattacks. It also provides anomaly detection to warn of potential network breaches in real-time. In all, 57 electric co-ops will deploy this technology, and six other cooperatives will use similar technology for a similar purpose.

“Information sharing, technology development, and coordination among industry and government partners are essential for strengthening electric sector cyber defenses,” Jim Matheson, NRECA CEO, said. “Real-time visibility into what’s happening across several different systems is important as the government and private sector work together to minimize blind spots and identify attacks in their infancy.”

Essence was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, which provided $6 million last fall for development. Another $3.9 million was recently awarded from the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Lab as well.

NRECA is a national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. It desires to expand the adoption of technologies like Essence to improve cybersecurity among the electric sector, and as such, has worked with the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) and the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) to develop future recommendations for protection against cyberthreats.