The Department of Energy is awarding $12 million in new grants to six academic cybersecurity research projects that are researching innovative ways to safely build or design the nation’s next generation of energy systems.
According to the Department of Energy, each of the six projects will receive approximately $2 million and includes an academic team leading the effort alongside other academic, nonprofit and private sector partners.
Three of the projects focus on building or designing AI solutions that can automate parts of cybersecurity operations for energy systems, help absorb cyberattacks without interrupting power, and recover faster when they do.
Florida International University will work with North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina, Duke Energy and the Raytheon Technologies Research Center on a $2 million project to develop tools for detecting artificial intelligence threats. Iowa State University (along with University of Texas El Paso, Electric Power Research Institute, Duke Energy, Alliant Energy, Google, OSISoft, and SEL) will receive an additional $2 million to work on resilient technologies and solutions and integrated with AI for cyberphysics systems. Finally, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station will lead a project using machine learning Rutgers University, Oregon State University, Network Perception, TDi Technologies, PSC Consulting, and Electric Power Engineers.
The other three projects focus on improving the security of specific, critical systems that owners and energy operators rely on to keep the lights on.
New York University will partner with SRI International, the New York Power Authority, and Consolidated Edison on a new program, Tracking Real-time Anomalies in Power Systems (or TRAPS) that detects abnormal behavior on cyber- of the energy sector and isolates them. systems from the rest of the power grid.
The University of Illinois at Chicago will lead a team to develop cybersecurity-focused designs for next-generation solid-state electrical substations. The school will be joined by researchers from Iowa State University, University of Arkansas, Illinois Institute of Technology, Electric Power Research Institute, NextWatt LLC, Eaton and ENER-i.
A team led by Virginia Tech will work to build a two-part system to improve substation cybersecurity resilience. One part would be responsible for detecting and mitigating cyber incidents while the second part would ensure that critical functions persist and communications on the system are secure. The team also includes researchers from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Southern Company Services and GW Grid Solutions.
“As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, no issue keeps me awake more at night than our country’s cyber vulnerabilities, especially those that may exist in the critical infrastructure sectors that power our country,” he said. said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., “I am thrilled to see these federal dollars being used to support Virginia Tech in the development of cutting-edge tools to bolster the cyber defenses of our electrical power systems.”