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Intensifying Cyber Tools to Protect the U.S. Power Grid

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An electric grid is a system of synchronised electricity producers and consumers that is run by one or more control centres and connected by transmission and distribution lines. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently disclosed a US$ 45 million financial commitment to develop, advance, and test technology that will safeguard the electric grid against cyber-attacks and allow Americans easily access inexpensive and clean energy.

“As DOE builds out America’s clean energy infrastructure, this funding will provide the tools for a strong, resilient, and secure electricity grid that can withstand modern cyber threats and deliver energy to every pocket of America,” says Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy. “DOE will use this investment to keep up with the administration’s promise to make energy more affordable, reliable, and clean.”

Cyberattacks on American energy systems have the potential to shut down vital energy infrastructure, disrupt the country’s economy, and endanger consumer health. The U.S. will have the chance to strengthen its cyber defences in the energy industry by combining them with the additional grid improvements that are supported by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Up to 15 research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects with a focus on creating new cybersecurity tools and solutions to lower cyber risks for energy delivery infrastructure would be supported by the grant. To achieve the nation’s objective of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, it is essential to build robust and secure energy infrastructure across the nation.

The said research projects will receive funding from the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) of the DOE. These projects will create new research partnerships or strengthen those that already exist with energy sector utilities, vendors, universities, national laboratories, and service providers to develop resilient energy delivery systems.

The project will result in the development of cutting-edge tools and technology that are intended to lessen the disruption of energy distribution caused by cyber incidents. To enable energy systems to autonomously identify a cyberattack, try to prevent it, and automatically isolate and eliminate it without affecting energy delivery, researchers will focus on creating tools and technologies.

As sustainable energy technology is implemented on the grid, cybersecurity is still a top priority. The project’s six planned issue areas are as follows:

  • Automated Cyberattack Prevention and Mitigation
  • Security and Resiliency by Design
  • Authentication Mechanisms for Energy Delivery Systems
  • Automated Methods to Discover and Mitigate Vulnerabilities
  • Cybersecurity through Advanced Software Solutions
  • Integration of New Concepts and Technologies with Existing Infrastructure

Meanwhile, the National Science Foundation (NSF), a pioneer in providing infrastructure, direction, and support for ethically created and deployed ML/AI systems in the U.S. has worked with some partnerships to strengthen and support fairness in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), which are developing quickly.

The awardees of the Programme on Fairness in Artificial Intelligence for 2022 were announced by NSF in partnership with a private institution as part of that commitment. The recipients of the 2022 awards will get financial support worth up to $9.5 million.

The awardees have outlined projects that include eliminating bias and unfairness in ML/AI systems, creating guidelines for how people should interact with such systems, creating theoretical frameworks for algorithms, and enhancing speech recognition technology so that it is more widely used.

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