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Building Cybersecurity Capability in the Electricity Sector

A new initiative will help ensure our electricity grid is secure and resilient against cyber threats.

Yesterday, in partnership with industry, we took a step forward in better understanding the capabilities of our power grid and how we can improve our ability to protect it against cybersecurity threats.

Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Lute and I hosted industry executives to conclude the Electricity Sector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model initiative that we launched in January. This White House initiative has shown encouraging results as a tool to evaluate and strengthen cybersecurity capabilities and enable utilities to prioritize their actions and their cybersecurity investments.

From the beginning of this initiative, our industry partners in this effort have been engaged at the executive level, which has made all the difference in how this effort helps raise awareness and institutionalizes processes within utilities and across the sector. I challenge all of the participants to continue the leadership you have demonstrated to continue strengthening cybersecurity capabilities.

The model we have created explores ten domains, or categories of capabilities, and helps utilities determine the strength of their capabilities. With a waitlist of utilities eager to employ the model beyond the pilot participants, this model promises to significantly enhance our understanding of cybersecurity capabilities across the sector—a first step to understanding the cybersecurity posture of the grid. This effort will provide us with valuable insights to inform investment planning, research and development, and public-private partnership efforts.

We will continue to work with industry to ensure our electricity grid is secure and resilient against cyber threats. We ask our industry partners to use the model that DOE will release next week and let us know what works and what needs improvements. Together, we can encourage the development of capabilities for our nation’s utilities in a way that makes sense for industry and that benefits our economy and our national security.

Howard A. Schmidt is the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator.