Department of Energy would get new cybersecurity office under White House proposal

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A new office would be created in the Department of Energy to monitor and improve energy sector cybersecurity under the president’s proposed budget for fiscal 2019.

Named the the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), the office would “focus on energy infrastructure security and support the expanded national security responsibilities assigned to the Department of Energy.”

CESER would take over responsibilities covered elsewhere in the Energy Department budget: the Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery System (CEDS) and the Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration (ISER) programs.

Those programs would see their expected spending go up by about 42 percent collectively and would be folded into CESER. CEDS and ISER have about $45 million and $10 million, respectively, in expected spending in fiscal 2018. Under CESER, spending on those accounts would increase to $70 million and $18 million, respectively. An additional $8 million would go toward “program direction,” which describes efforts to manage the workforce and contractor services associated with the new office.

CEDS is responsible for protecting the country’s energy infrastructure, including understanding and sharing energy sector supply chain system and component vulnerabilities. ISER is responsible for coordinating with the energy industry along with state and local governments to mitigate disruptive events.

Cyberthreats targeting energy infrastructure have increased in recent years as industrial control systems are repeatedly targeted by malicious actors. Parts of the Ukrainian power grid were shut down multiple times in recent years due to cyberattacks. Last year, sophisticated malware forced an oil and gas facility in Saudi Arabia to shut down as a safety precaution.

The DOE last year issued $4 million in funding to cybersecurity firms to research and develop technology that would protect against such attacks.

The department did not respond to request for comment about how the programs would be run differently under the new office with the increased budget.

The fiscal 2019 budget overall would see $15 billion being spent on cybersecurity-related issues, an increase of $583.4 million, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

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budget, CEDS, CESER, Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery System, Department of Energy, DOE, energy grid, Energy Security, ICS security, Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration, ISER, Office of Cybersecurity
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