DOE funds ViaSat cybersecurity development with two utilities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted eleven awards totaling about $30 million for the development of new tools and technologies to strengthen protection of the nation’s electric grid and oil and gas infrastructure from cyber-attack, including an award of $3.25 million to ViaSat Inc.

The company will work closely with Southern California Edison (SCE) and a large utility headquartered in the South to investigate, develop and deploy an enhancement to ViaSat’s critical infrastructure protection (CIP) system that incorporates policy-based automated responses to cyber events, increasing the resiliency of transmission and distribution (T&D) networks.

ViaSat’s cybersecurity system focuses on securing utilities’ operational grids, enabling energy, water, oil and gas, and transportation operations crews to manage security through a virtual display of the network.

The system implements an authenticated and encrypted “security fabric” that protects machine-to-machine communications between devices, and provides grid operators with the ability to visualize the security state of the system. Sensors continually update the information in real time, creating a hierarchical view that operators can use to identify issues, then drill down to individual nodes to contain or fix problems as they arise.

All DOE cybersecurity efforts align with the “Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity,” jointly developed with energy sector companies. The Roadmap outlines a strategic framework over the next decade to design, install, operate, and maintain a resilient energy delivery system capable of surviving a cyber incident while sustaining critical functions.

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