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US Power Grid To Get An Upgrade To Thwart Potential Cyber Attacks

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding up to US$28 million in research and development of next-generation tools and technologies aimed at improving the cybersecurity of the critical American energy infrastructure, including the electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure.

“Protecting the Nation’s energy delivery systems from cyber-threats is a top national priority,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in a DOE statement. “These awards will spur the next level of innovation needed to advance cyber resilience, ensuring that the Nation’s critical energy infrastructure can withstand potential cyber attacks while also still keeping the lights on,” Secretary Perry noted.

The funding for the US$28-million awards to R&D projects will be provided by the Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) Division of the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER).

The projects that will get funding are expected to create and make innovative technologies that help prevent, detect, and mitigate cyber attacks.

“The teams will pursue innovative approaches such as redesigning the current architecture that exposes the energy grid to cyber threats so that existing and future energy delivery systems can detect adversarial actions and adapt to survive while continuing to support critical functions,” the DOE said.

The DOE Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity aims to strengthen the current energy delivery systems and at the same time to develop ‘game-changing solutions’ that will create inherently secure, resilient, and self-defending energy systems of the future.

During the worst of the oil price plunge in 2015 and 2016, oil companies put investments in cybersecurity on the back burner, striving to adapt to the lower-for-longer oil prices with cost cuts, while hackers grew increasingly inventive and bolder, according to security experts.

The projects to strengthen the networks and systems against cyber attacks did not receive the necessary attention and funding during the lean years, and as a result, most security teams today are too short staffed and technology deficient to effectively monitor and prevent cyber attacks, the experts told the Houston Chronicle in April this year.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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