More US Projects Set to Receive Funding for Energy Cybersecurity Solutions | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has earmarked $45 million in grants for 16 projects on cybersecurity technologies that can counter not only current forms of threats but also future ones.

The projects across six states “will help develop new cybersecurity tools and technologies designed to reduce cyber risks and strengthen the resilience of America’s energy systems, which include the power grid, electric utilities, pipelines, and renewable energy generation sources like wind or solar”, it said in a news release.

Electric Power Research Institute Inc. in Palo Alto, California, has been selected for a project to develop an advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-powered system to detect and respond to incidents in control system endpoints at the grid edge.

The research and development unit of General Electric Co., GE Research in Niskayuna, New York, will develop a quantum communication technique for time-sensitive coordination messages.    

Another selectee, Georgia Tech Research Corp. in Atlanta, will develop a framework that uses AI techniques for automated vulnerability assessment, discovery and mitigation involving devices for distributed energy resources (DERs). DERs are small-scale resources connected to the grid to enable decentralized energy access, such as battery storage and rooftop solar panels.  

Texas A&M University-Kingsville will develop a zero-trust authentication mechanism with post-quantum cryptography for DER devices and networks.  

A selected project by Iowa State University of Science and Technology in Ames aims to come up with technical solutions that can be implemented in the initial stages of DER infrastructure development to boost the resilience of critical control functions. 

“This investment will address a wide range of current and emerging cyber threats facing energy systems from generation through delivery”, the DOE said. “Accelerating investments in cybersecurity is critical to achieving President Biden’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals and essential to ensuring a secure, reliable energy supply for American families and businesses”.

The selectees need to proceed to negotiations with the DOE before their funding can be finalized.

The DOE said it is partnering with a variety of stakeholders including industry players, national laboratories and academic institutions to advance solutions to cybersecurity threats in the country’s energy infrastructure.

Last week the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) released cybersecurity baselines for electric distribution systems and DERs such as solar, wind and storage, in an initiative funded by the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER).

“The guidance developed by NARUC, through CESER’s funding, will help provide states with uniform cybersecurity baselines instead of creating a patchwork of cybersecurity requirements across the country”, the DOE said in a press release February 22.

“Further, the baselines will enable electric companies and DER providers to work with state utility commissions and energy offices, boards, and communities to prioritize cybersecurity investments across the United States”.

On January 17 the DOE announced a $30 million funding opportunity for research, development and demonstration projects on next-generation tools to protect clean energy delivery infrastructure from cyberattacks.

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