The US Department of Energy has awarded $15 million to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) in an effort to help electric cooperatives expand their cybersecurity capabilities for industrial control systems (ICS).
Specifically, electric cooperatives can use the money to identify and deploy cyber monitoring technologies for ICS. The money will be awarded over a period of three years, with $10 million disbursed in 2022 and the remaining amount over the next years.
NRECA represents nearly 900 local electric cooperatives in the United States, serving a combined 42 million Americans.
“As threats and threat actors evolve, electric cooperatives consistently work to improve their cyber defenses. Funding like this helps co-ops stay ahead of the curve,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Our longstanding partnership with DOE makes the electric grid more resilient, reliable and secure.
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The most well-known cyberattacks aimed at energy providers were seen in Ukraine, where sophisticated threat actors used complex malware and other techniques to target ICS and cause — or attempt to cause — disruption and damage.
In addition, profit-driven cybercriminals have been known to target electric utilities around the world, including in the United States and Europe, but these attacks targeted IT systems and did not impact ICS.