DOE announces $45 million investment for cybersecurity research

The funding goes to 16 projects aimed at developing advanced tools to protect the energy sector.
Overhead aerial of Transamerica pyramid at night, San Francisco, California. (Getty Images)

The Department of Energy on Monday announced a $45 million investment into cybersecurity research for the energy sector, including projects on artificial intelligence detection and response and quantum communication for the grid.

DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) will fund 16 projects with organizations headquartered in six states, covering six topics that are largely aimed at reducing cyber risks and improving the resilience of the electricity, oil, and natural gas sectors.

“DOE is committed to strengthening the nation’s energy sector, including protecting it against current or emerging cyber threats that would threaten Americans’ access to secure, reliable energy,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “With today’s announcement, the Biden-Harris administration is helping teams across the country develop innovative next-generation cybersecurity solutions for tackling modern-day challenges.”

The investments come shortly after the nation’s top security officials sounded the alarm on Volt Typhoon, a China-linked hacking group that has targeted critical infrastructure in ways that signify destructive or disruptive intent.


One of the funding projects is an “artificial intelligence and data processing capability” that can detect and respond to hacks for grid edge-devices, an umbrella term for customer-owned controls like smart thermostats and electric vehicle charging stations. Another AI-focused project is a framework for automating vulnerability assessments, discoveries, and mitigations in distributed energy resources.

DOE is also hoping to get ahead of the looming post-quantum cryptography issue by developing zero-trust authentication that is quantum-resistant. Another project seeks to develop an ability to use quantum communication to securely talk to time-sensitive applications, for example in automation and remote management as well as processing grid data.

The administration has devoted billions toward improving the resiliency of the energy sector through the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The national cybersecurity strategy pointed to clean energy resilience, in particular, as the grid undergoes modernization efforts. 

In January, DOE announced $30 million in funding for research and development into cybersecurity tools to protect clean energy infrastructure and $70 million for research into cyber and physical risks to the energy sector. CESER also announced another $70 million in funding for rural and municipal utilities in November.

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