Cybersecurity

Grant seeks to counter attacks on power grid

Placeholder Image for Article Template

The Energy Department gave Georgia Institute of Technology researchers $5 million to develop protocols and tools that can detect cyberattacks on the nation's utility companies.

According to the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the grant will fuel a cooperative effort to detect "adversarial manipulation of the power grid." The initiative seeks to provide real-time protection for the energy infrastructure by using advanced modeling and simulation technologies linked to a network of sensors.

Protecting the nation's utility infrastructure has been a thorny issue. Most power companies and their infrastructure are privately owned, and despite the increasing threat of cyberattacks, private-sector entities have generally preferred voluntary guidelines rather than mandates from the federal government.

Furthermore, the risk of cyberattacks on those facilities' infrastructure is growing at the same time the cybersecurity threat is increasing for federal computer networks.

The government plays a direct role in protecting its own networks, but it has been moving to increase public/private partnerships and spur R&D spending on cybersecurity protections for utilities. In February 2013, President Barack Obama released a cybersecurity executive order that called for more collaboration between government and the private sector on technological protection for utilities. DOE has been central to the effort.

To develop cybersecurity protections under DOE's recent grant, GTRI researchers will work with Georgia Tech's National Electric Energy Testing, Research and Applications Center and the Strategic Energy Institute, as well as its own Cyber Technology and Information Systems Laboratory.

The project will consist of three phases at Georgia Tech -- research and development, test, and evaluation -- followed by a technology demonstration at various sites with the help of multiple utility companies.

As part of the development process, GTRI said researchers will simulate numerous types of cyberattacks and develop a real-time decision-making algorithm that can evaluate the impact of potential infrastructure malfunctions.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.