Cyberthreat tsunami threatens utilities: DOE awards $30 million to fight back

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: Warning that the electric power industry faces a "tsunami of cybersecurity threats," the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $30 million to 9 different security vendors working on 11 different projects to develop better protection. Those vendors will be looking for utility partners to pilot their new tools. Act now to get first in line. - By Jesse Berst

 

Energy Department announces new investments of over $30 million to better protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber attack

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WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced awards totaling approximately $30 million for the development of new tools and technologies to strengthen protection of the nation’s electric grid and oil and gas infrastructure from cyber attack.

 

With support from the Energy Department, energy sector organizations in California, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington State will develop new systems, frameworks, and services that advance the Department’s vision of more resilient energy delivery control systems.

 

“Keeping the nation’s energy flowing is vital to the safety and well-being of Americans, our economic prosperity, and modern society as a whole,” said Secretary Moniz. “To meet the challenges of today’s evolving cyber landscape, we must continue investing in innovative, state-of-the-art technologies.”

The eleven projects selected for awards are outlined below. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation.

 

ABB, Inc. – Cary, NC
DOE share: $ 2,765,733; Recipient share: $ 936,793
ABB will develop a system that allows substation devices to work together to validate the integrity of communications, such as commands to change a protective relay's configuration, and assess the potential impact on grid operations.

 

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) – Palo Alto, CA
DOE share: $ 1,524,959; Recipient share: $ 529,384
EPRI will develop a framework that allows utilities to centrally manage the remote configuration of their energy delivery system devices – regardless of vendor or age – more securely.

 

Foxguard Solutions, Inc. – Christiansburg, VA
DOE share: $ 3,298,893; Recipient share: $ 1,003,399
Foxguard will develop a service that allows utilities to simplify the process of keeping up-to-date with the most current firmware and software patches and updates.

 

Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation – Atlanta, GA
DOE share: $ 3,283,063; Recipient share: $ 1,726,000
Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation will develop a technology that evaluates energy delivery system control commands to anticipate their impact on power grid operations and, if needed, implement cybersecurity responses to prevent disruptions.

 

Grid Protection Alliance – Chattanooga, TN
DOE share: $ 2,213,000; Recipient share: $ 637,000
The Grid Protection Alliance will develop an architecture that enables more secure substation communications for data generated by legacy or modern energy delivery devices.

 

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) – Arlington, Virginia
DOE share: $ 3,620,725; Recipient share: $ 1,137,367
NRECA will develop a network that allows utilities and small electric cooperatives with limited resources to centrally manage their networks more securely.

 

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. – Pullman, WA
DOE share: $ 2,094,599; Recipient share: $ 845,140
Schweitzer will develop an integrated cyber-physical access control system that simplifies the process of managing access to energy delivery facilities.

 

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. – Pullman, WA
DOE share: $ 3,771,371; Recipient share: $ 1,068,807
Schweitzer will develop a radio platform for more secure "last mile" wireless communications used with remote energy delivery infrastructure such as distribution substations.

 

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. – Pullman, WA
DOE share: $ 3,892,170; Recipient share: $ 1,248,207
Schweitzer will develop software that allows utilities to centrally manage their local area networks more securely, providing real-time awareness of cyber activity and rerouting network traffic in response to cyber intrusions.

 

TT Government Solutions, Inc. – Red Bank, NJ
DOE share: $ 956,560; Recipient share: $ 324,205
TT Government Solutions will develop a technology that analyzes and visualizes smart meter wireless communications to quickly detect unusual behavior that could suggest a cyber attack.

 

Viasat, Inc. – Carlsbad, CA
DOE share: $ 3,250,000; Recipient share: $ 3,301,163
Viasat will develop an architecture that gives utilities awareness of the status of their energy delivery systems’ cybersecurity, and allows them to automatically respond to cyber intrusions as predetermined in the utility’s cybersecurity policy.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

 

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