Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Friday, February 28, 2020
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DOE Awards $30M to Secure Energy Sector 

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted $30 million through 11 awards to strengthen the defenses of the nation’s electrical grid as well as the infrastructure surrounding the oil and gas industry.

The awards include $3.25 million to ViaSat, a Carlsbad, Calif.,-based cybersecurity company that will work with Southern California Edison and another large utility company to protect critical IT infrastructure as well as transmission and distribution networks. In addition, FoxGuard Solutions was awarded $3.3 million for its patch and update intelligence gathering services.

ViaSat’s system manages security through a virtual network display. Sensors are used throughout the system to categorize issues into a hierarchical view, within which operators can zoom in to see individual nodes that contain problems. Between each devices ViaSat employs its “security fabric” to authenticate and encrypt sensitive data.

As a part of the sector’s “Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity,” which outlines the framework to design, install, operate and maintain a more secure energy delivery system to our nation over the coming decade, all of ViaSets efforts, like other DOE cybersecurity projects, will contribute to meeting the Roadmap’s goals.

The company’s current strategy includes applying firewalls, intrusion detection, deep packet inspection, analytics, network segmentation, as well as device identity management and authentication over IT systems.

When cybersecurity events are detected, the system also generates an automated policy-based response. ViaSat’s infrastructure protection also integrates physical security, physical access control and user access control for added fortification.

FoxGuard Solutions, on the other hand, is busy developing a program to help utilities keep up with current firmware and software patches and updates for their energy delivery systems. The service will build upon the company’s experience with patch management for industrial control systems and assets owners and operators within the energy sector.

FoxGuard officials say that the three-year project is already underway. In this first phase of work, the company is looking at focus group research to determine the best way to deploy its system, which includes a patch and update data aggregator service and user portal, a validation techniques and procedural execution program, a patch and update scanning and deployment tool, and patch and update authentication measures.

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