Energy set to form new group to protect electric grid from cyberattacks

A public-private group the Energy Department is forming to better secure the nation's electric grid from cyberattacks must be given strong regulatory and budgetary authority to drive sweeping changes to computer networks, security specialists said.  Jan 5th, 2010

In 2009, Congress said it would give the department about $172 million to consider ways to tighten the security of the networks that the energy sector uses to operate the grid once the department formed an independent national organization. Energy has yet to create the group.

Once it's launched, the group's goals will be to establish "policies and protocol to ensure the effective deployment of technology and software controls to protect the bulk power electric grid," according to the fiscal 2010 appropriations bill, which President Obama signed into law on Oct. 28, 2009.

Congress required that within 60 days of the enactment of the appropriations law -- which was Dec. 27, 2009 -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu would have to invite qualified individuals from the power and security industries to disseminate best practices in cybersecurity; organize the collection, analysis and dissemination of the vulnerabilities and threats that networks face; and work cooperatively with Energy and other federal agencies that oversee efforts to enhance security of the bulk power electric grid.

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