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The frequent cyber attacks on energy control systems that Ukraine experiences are not isolated to that nation. NPS is responding to these threats by building on its established strengths in the cyber domain as a leaader in the education of cyber security professionals.

Energy Academic Group Working with NPS Cyber Security Faculty to Address Threats to Critical Energy Control Systems

Although we intuitively understand the importance of cyber security, the integral nexus between cyber and energy security is not always well understood. However, as we see a rise in hybrid and emerging security threats, the role of energy and energy security cannot be overlooked. With an increasing dependency on automation and integrated, connected systems, technology, and the energy it requires, now touches almost all aspects of our lives. It is therefore of critical importance to ensure the technology we depend upon is secure, private, and reliable. Consider the operational impact of losing part or all of our energy grid for any significant length of time. Many of the basic services we rely on now would cease to function within days, and we would quickly lose the ability to communicate and coordinate.

In 2017, the Energy Academic Group (EAG) supported a NATO-led exercise in Ukraine to assess the country’s response to cyber attacks on its critical energy infrastructure. Although the attacks in the exercise were simulated, these kinds of attacks are very real, and the frequency and severity of these attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is alarming. Many experts believe these attacks are being performed by certain state actors who are using Ukraine’s infrastructure as a training playground to hone their skills for future attacks elsewhere. Moreover, Ukraine is not an isolated case. These kinds of attacks target operational control systems, yet there is a current lack of comprehensive education and training in this specific focus area to help nations shore up and defend their critical infrastructure from these types of attacks.

The Naval Postgraduate School is responding to these threats by building on its established strengths in the cyber domain as a leader in the education of cyber security professionals, and the EAG is now working with cyber security faculty from across the campus to develop a new, dedicated course focusing on the security of these critical control systems and the nexus between energy security and cyber security.  

Development of the new course, called the Cybersecurity of Operational Technology Systems, is being led at NPS by Bob Garza from the Information Sciences (IS) Department; together with J. D. Fulp from the Computer Sciences (CS) Department; and Chad Bollman, Carson McAbee, and Mike Thompson, all from the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department. There is already strong demand for this course, which will be offered from the spring of 2020 to partner nations and via the NATO School Partnership Program in Oberammergau, Germany.



Email Alan Howard at arhoward@nps.edu or call 831-656-3855



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