Cybersecurity

FERC proposes incentives for electric companies to improve cybersecurity

By Iren Moroz shutterstock ID 566799760 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is proposing a rule change that would allow the federal government to subsidize electric companies that implement cybersecurity measures beyond the minimum standards required by current regulations.

FERC is seeking comment on the proposed rule change, which was published Feb. 5 in the Federal Register.

Under the proposal, public utilities could seek "deferred cost recovery" for any cybersecurity improvements they make to their infrastructure that go beyond the minimum requirements developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The policy allows for three categories of improvements: third-party hardware, software and computing and networking services, employee training to implement the upgrades, and costs associated with the implementation "such as risk assessments by third parties or internal system reviews," according to the Federal Register.

FERC cites the coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons the change is necessary.

"The rapid expansion of teleworking capabilities revealed potential vulnerabilities, and some identified cybersecurity events specifically targeting remote access network equipment," according to the proposal. "It is important that public utilities make cybersecurity investments to quickly and effectively address these cybersecurity challenges as well as other emerging threats."

The proposal also leaves open the possibility that any improvements companies take up voluntarily that are proven to be effective may eventually become mandatory, citing a June 2020 white paper written by FERC's staff.

Comments on the proposed rule are due by April 6.

 

About the Author

Justin Katz covers cybersecurity for FCW. Previously he covered the Navy and Marine Corps for Inside Defense, focusing on weapons, vehicle acquisition and congressional oversight of the Pentagon. Prior to reporting for Inside Defense, Katz covered community news in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. Connect with him on Twitter at @JustinSKatz.


Featured

  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected