Feds Fund Grid Security Effort

Thursday, September 30, 2010 @ 08:09 AM gHale


More than $30 million will go toward ten cyber security projects facing the nation’s electric grid, said the Department of Energy.
Together, these projects represent a significant investment in addressing cyber security issues in the nation’s electric infrastructure.
“These awards help us make a significant leap forward to strengthen the security and reliability of the nation’s electric grid, in a climate of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks,” said DOE Secretary Steven Chu. “The development of technologies that can provide defense-in-depth cyber security solutions, and increased insight from private-public collaborations, will allow us to better protect the nation’s energy delivery systems that keep our lights on and the power flowing.”
These choices address cyber security concerns from two approaches: research and development for innovative cyber security solutions, and the establishment of the National Electric Sector Cybersecurity Organization.
As the energy infrastructure becomes more advanced, it must meet and address cyber security challenges along the way. These eight projects will research, develop, and commercialize cyber security solutions to strengthen the U.S. energy infrastructure against cyber intrusion and assist owners and operators. These projects will bring cyber security and privacy protection into the utilities, out to the substations, and to homes.
One project is the Sypris Electronics – Centralized Cryptographic Key Management. This project will enhance the security of the Smart Grid meters at residences, by ensuring the data remains private through providing and managing electronic data keys that only allow trusted parties to access the data and prevent intruders from doing the same. This project will receive $3.1 million in funding.
In addition to project the Department of Energy established the National Electric Sector Cybersecurity Organization (NESCO), which will be a broad-based, public-private partnership that will work to improve electric sector computer and network cyber security, including those used in the smart grid. Working with the DOE and other federal agencies, the $10 million project will bring together domestic and international experts, software developers and users to focus research efforts; to assess and test the security of new cyber technologies, architectures, and applications; and analyze, monitor, and disseminate infrastructure weaknesses and threats.
Two organizations will receive awards to support this effort. One will form the organization, NESCO. The other recipient, the Electric Power Institute, Inc. (EPRI), will provide a research and analysis resource for NESCO.
Energy Sector Security Consortium, Inc. (EnergySec) will form the NESCO organization. It will work to improve electric system reliability by supplying data analysis and forensics capabilities for cyber-related threat. It will also assist in creating a framework to identify and prepare for challenges to grid reliability; share information, best practices, resources, and solutions to and from domestic and international electric sector participants; and encourage key electric sector supplier and vendor support and interaction. This project will receive $5.9 million in funding.
EPRI will assess and develop technologies, best practices, metrics and standards.
“It is essential that we protect the power system from cyber attacks,” said Arshad Mansoor, EPRI’s vice president of Power Delivery and Utilization. “The goal is to create a system that enhances the national grid, and especially to buttress its security and integrity.”



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