Cybersecurity of the Electric Grid Requires Public-Private Partnerships

National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Vice President of Government Relations Kyle Pitsor has testified in front of the Energy Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee at a hearing on improving the cyber- and physical-security of the electric grid. As the association representing the manufacturers of electrical equipment, NEMA develops industry best practices for cybersecurity.

“Electroindustry manufacturers have made cybersecurity a top priority. As the manufacturers of essential grid equipment, NEMA members are a key line of defense against both physical- and cyber-attacks on the electricity transmission and distribution system,” says Pitsor. “However, the responsibility for protecting the electric grid must be shared among the private sector, end-users, and government agencies.”

NEMA recommended increased public-private collaboration on cybersecurity, possibly including voluntary cybersecurity evaluation of products used in the transmission, distribution, and storage of electricity.

Pitsor’s testimony highlighted NEMA electrical standards including, “NEMA CPSP 1-2015: Supply Chain Best Practices,” published in 2015 as a document for electrical manufacturers to improve the security of their supply chain. In May 2018, NEMA will publish a companion document, “NEMA CPSP 2-2018: Cyber Hygiene,” detailing cyber hygiene principles and best practices for electrical manufacturers to implement in their manufacturing and engineering processes. More information is online.

The hearing focused on four bills, one which was the Cyber Sense Act (H.R. 5239) that establishes a voluntary program to identify and promote cyber secure products for use in the bulk-power system. Also under consideration was the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act (H.R. 5240) to require DOE to provide voluntary physical- and cyber-security training and technical assistance to utilities; assess DOE cybersecurity priorities, policies, and procedures; and update the Interruption Cost Estimate Calculator. Both bills are co-sponsored by Congressmen Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Jerry McNerney (D-California) who co-chair the Congressional Grid Innovation Caucus.

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