Energy Department Announces 100-Day Sprint to Shore Up Power Grid Cybersecurity

The department will partner with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and utilities to improve visibility, detection and response to cyber threats.

Through a 100-day initiative announced Tuesday, the Biden administration aims to improve the cybersecurity of the nation’s electricity operations.

The Department of Energy will spearhead the initiative through its Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, and in conjunction with electric utilities will look to advance technologies that provide “cyber visibility, detection and response capabilities” across the power grid.

“The United States faces a well-documented and increasing cyber threat from malicious actors seeking to disrupt the electricity Americans rely on to power our homes and businesses,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “It’s up to both government and industry to prevent possible harms—that’s why we’re working together to take these decisive measures so Americans can rely on a resilient, secure, and clean energy system.”

DOE will partner with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and electricity infrastructure providers over the next three months to modernize the grid’s cybersecurity defenses. The initiative pushes electric utility operators to adopt technology that enhances “detection, mitigation and forensic capabilities” and introduces milestones to deploy technology that provides “near real-time situation awareness” in critical industrial control systems and operational technology networks.

“The safety and security of the American people depend on the resilience of our nation's critical infrastructure,” CISA Acting Director Brandon Wales said in a statement.  “This partnership with the Department of Energy to protect the U.S. electric system will prove a valuable pilot as we continue our work to secure industrial control systems across all sectors.”

The initiative coincides with a DOE request for information seeking input federal agencies, utilities and electric companies and research labs have on informing future supply chain security measures.  The RFI indicates increased threats to the nation’s electric systems from nation-state actors, including China, and seeks ways to minimize future national security risks as it formulates a long-term strategy.