Department of Energy Invests $34 Million to Improve Cybersecurity

With the establishment of two substantial research endeavors, the Department of Energy (DOE) is earmarking funds of more than $34 million to improve cybersecurity and protect the country’s power grid against cyber attacks and hackers.

A new press release from the Energy Department website confirmed that over $34 million will be allocated to two projects at the University of Arkansas and the University of Illinois.

The funds are an investment in the two projects to improve and enhance the protection of the U.S. electric grid infrastructure as well as the oil and natural gas infrastructure from ongoing and future cyber threats. Both Universities will put together teams with expertise in engineering related to power systems along with computer science pertaining to cybersecurity.

The goal is to develop and implement new technologies that will one day protect energy delivery systems that are essential to the continue and reliable delivery of power all around the country.

Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary at the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability spoke about the importance of investing in cybersecurity.

“Cybersecurity is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernization, which is why maintaining a robust, ever-growing pipeline of cutting-edge technologies is essential to helping the energy sector continue adapting to the evolving landscape.”

She further added:

“To meet this challenge, we must continue investing in innovative, next-generation technologies that can be transitioned to the energy sector to reduce the risk of a power disruption resulting from a cyber incident.”

The Investment in Cybersecurity

The University of Arkansas will see $12.2 million in investment along with another $3.06 million as a recipient cost-share. The University consortium will, with the investment, research, develop new techniques and tools and check their effectiveness against real-world scenarios by testing at the University’s National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission facility, along with other partners’ test facilities.

These technologies, when successful will then be moved to be implemented to the wider industry.

The University of Illinois’ Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium or the CREDC will get the majority of the investment at $22.5 million with another $5.6 as a recipient cost-share.

Speaking about the investment, Alan Mantooth, a Professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas said:

The impact of this work is tremendous. All too frequently we are hearing of how foreign entities are hacking into U.S. computer systems. This center’s mission is directly focused on protecting America’s electric energy delivery system, and we are pleased to have a great team with which to approach these challenges.