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Charles Durant's picture
Director Field Intelligence Operations Division Oak Ridge National Laboratory

I am the Field Intelligence Operations Division Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Previously I worked for Berkshsire Hathaway Energy as the National Security and Resiliency Policy...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Apr 14, 2021

Initial roll out of new White House plan regarding the security of the energy sector.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 14, 2021

Is the U.S. grid more vulnerable than other developed nations right now? Or are we just a bigger target? I feel like we hear more about the threats to the U.S. grid than otherwise, but either way that makes these types of dramatic actions all the more necessary. Thanks for sharing. 

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Charles Durant on Apr 14, 2021

I don't think the US grid is more vulnerable; however, as nation states start using threats to critical infrastructure as an instrument of power during peacetime or as a force multiplier during conflict, their efforts to conduct reconnaissance of US critical infrastructure and prepare the battle space will continue to grow and pose a threat to our critical infrastructure.  I've followed some European and Australian open source articles and they are seeing similar threats as we are.

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Apr 14, 2021

I'm more concerned about the smaller entities, e.g. munis and coops, that may not have the cybersecurity skills, resources and funding available to implement all of the recommendations available from NERC, NIST, DOE and others. These entities need low cost, but highly effective tools, to help them prevent a cyber attack. They are the weakest link in the "chain" in an electric system that is highly interconnected and becoming more decentralized in its own supply chain. It only takes one good opening to expose the entire grid to a dangerous disturbance, e.g. an oscillation event that destabilizes the system

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Charles Durant on Apr 14, 2021

I share your concern.  Just a couple of thoughts at a high level are:

-The government can use the national labs to develop tools for distribution to the smaller companies for their use.

-The smaller companies may want to develop shared resources and execute NDAs that their information cannot be shared between the partners without consent and/or some information can be shared so long as it is anonymized for analytical purposes.

-Information sharing is critical.  If the larger entities that can afford the resources agree to share anonymized information broadly, a highly effective team at a large utility or company could identify indicators that if shared broadly would benefit the entire industry.  This would be applicable to public/private partnerships as well.  So long as the information sharing is in place, only a few companies participating could benefit the entire industry because the indicators will be the same across the spectrum of companies.

-The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission made similar recommendations in their most recent reports.


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Richard Brooks on Apr 14, 2021

I agree with all of your points. I know that PNNL and INL are collaborating with DOE CESER CyTRICS and NTIA SBOM initiatives on an Energy Proof of Concept (POC). I plan to participate in the POC performing in the role of a small electric utility that uses SBOM as part of a software supply chain risk assessment, using the SAG-PM (TM) software.

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