In 2013 US. Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) identified 16 sectors deemed critical to the operation of the nation. The identified sectors are:
- Commercial Facilities
- Critical Manufacturing
- Defense Industrial Base
- Emergency Services
- Financial Services
- Food and Agriculture
- Government Facilities
- Healthcare and Public Health
- Information Technology
- Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste
- Transportation Systems
- Water and Wastewater Systems
Before that directive those with a vested interest in cybersecurity had been ringing the alarm bell about the status of security in our critical infrastructure, but PPD-21 brought focused attention to the issues and sought solutions to them. While each sector in its own right is vital, attacks on the energy grid are especially concerning because of the dependency on electricity for the functioning of each individual sector.
In partial answer to the issues surrounding the defense of the grid, a new project, the “Threat Detection and Response with Data Analytics,” according to HomeLand Security Wire News is …”part of a $220 million, three-year Grid Modernization Initiative launched in January 2016 by the Department of Energy to support research and development in power grid modernization”. This new program has a goal of developing new methods and technologies that will enhance the protection of the power grid. In particular, those involved seek to use advanced data analysis to determine if grid failures are caused by ‘natural’ occurring events such as those that are weather related or equipment failure and those due to cyber attacks, thereby allowing for more effective response.
A notable group of organizations are involved in the project including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Berkeley Lab, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge, Idaho, and Pacific Northwest as well as Sandia National Laboratories.
Retaining the security of our critical infrastructures is vital to the uninterrupted functioning of our nation, and each step towards a more secure culture is beneficial. This latest effort by the DOE is a step in the right direction.
Learn more about how the protection of critical infrastructure by taking a look at the recent published small book, Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection written by NCI Senior Advisor, Dr. Jane LeClair and NCI Fellow, Scott Burns.