The technological future of the United States is being built by industry manufacturers that balance optimization with layers of physical, cyber, and energy security to keep our nation at the forefront of global innovation. Rapid technological innovation in advanced manufacturing brings tremendous gains, but this highly dynamic space can also significantly change cybersecurity risks. To position our nation’s industrial base to innovate both rapidly and securely, key stakeholders in government, industry, and academia must generate a unity of effort to effectively address these challenges and ensure that advanced manufacturing products, processes, and intellectual property are protected.
Recognizing these challenges, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) identified the critical need for strengthened partnerships with organizations and teams that can work across the manufacturing industry, research and academic institutions, and federal government agencies to develop technologies to enable U.S. manufacturing to thrive and grow.
DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) has re-committed to supporting a future state of energy security that is built on next-generation architectures that are cyber-informed and secure-by-design. This joint, collaborative mission aims to help harden U.S. manufacturers against current cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and risks by supporting security research, tool and framework development, and training needed for companies to protect themselves against evolving cyber threats.
A focal point for developing this unity of effort and leading national initiatives to secure advanced manufacturing is DOE’s newest Manufacturing Institute, the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII). Formed in 2019, CyManII is a partnership between DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and CESER, and industry and academic participants that addresses the fundamental challenges of cybersecurity with a manufacturing context. With support from DOE, CyManII recently released its Year Two Roadmap, which outlines plans to ensure that U.S. manufacturers benefit from a dedicated, national effort to secure the industry from cybersecurity threats, risks, and vulnerabilities. CyManII is meeting manufacturers where they operate today and setting them on a path toward a vastly improved cyber future state that is secure and energy efficient by design and founded on industry and national priorities. DOE encourages manufacturing stakeholders to review the Year Two Roadmap and join CyManII’s consortium of over 50 industry and academic partners to partner in these important national efforts. I’d like to recognize CESER’s Senior Advisor Cherylene Caddy leadership in advancing the partnership with CyManII.
Another program we are deeply invested in is the OT Defender Fellowship, a highly selective education program led by CESER in conjunction with the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The program gathers OT security managers with critical roles in the operations of the energy sector and give them an exclusive, insider view of how the government functions. The fellows practice key incident response activities to threat scenarios in low-risk, highly collaborative environments, are given access to cutting-edge tools and technologies, have virtual meet and greets with key cyber leaders, and receive input from and conversations with partners that had been previously out of reach. By prioritizing bi-directional communication, OT Defender promotes strong collaboration between industry, government, and stakeholder partners to improve the skills and abilities of our energy workforce. The OT Defender Program would not have been possible without the leadership of CESER’s Exercises, Training, and Workforce Development Program Manager Brian Marko.
In support of increased investment toward cutting-edge cyber technology tools and services, DOE also recently announced a $12 million funding opportunity award for six new university-led projects. Funding given to the six chosen universities will be put toward the development of cutting-edge cyber-physical platform tools and technologies that can detect and mitigate incidents in energy delivery systems. These projects center around research that advances anomaly detection, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and physics-based analytics to strengthen the security of next-generation energy systems. I’m deeply appreciative of CESER’s Senior Advisor Akhlesh Kaushiva for leading this effort and recognizing the importance of partnering with academia, industry, manufacturers, and others on critical cyber research, development, and deployment efforts we must continue to do.
Finally, CESER has always understood the critical need to empower the nation’s energy workforce with the skills they need to defend and protect the security of our energy grid. Through initiatives like our expanded cybersecurity workforce development program, CyberForce, we are reinvesting in our employees and fostering an environment of continued learning, self-betterment, and collaborative competition that brings out the best in our energy workforce. The CyberForce Competition, led by Argonne National Laboratory and supported by a number of other DOE National Laboratories, engages students in a competition where they have to protect a mock energy company’s infrastructure—from their controls systems to their websites—through a series of simulated attacks by a red team. This helps students understand the criticality of cybersecurity in the energy sector, and the critical of the energy sector to our national and economic security. The Competition continues to grow year over year through the steadfast leadership of CESER’s Program Manager Carolyn Gay.
DOE and our partners must continue our collaborative research and training programs to develop and implement the next-generation architectures that are cyber-informed and engineered to be secure by design. CESER is leading the way toward the clean, modern electricity grid of the future, and with the help of our industry and Federal partners, we will revolutionize the security systems we use to protect it.