DoE Selects Guardtime To Develop Blockchain-Based Cybersecurity For Energy Grids

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has issued a multimillion-dollar award (the exact amount of which has not been specified) to blockchain firm Guardtime and the Pacific Northwest National Labratory (PNNL), along with other partners, to “develop blockchain cybersecurity technology to help secure distributed energy resources at the grid’s edge.” The “grid’s edge” refers to “the intersection of the distribution network and customers” according to Fereidoon P. Sioshansi, editor of the recently published tome Innovation and Disruption at the Grid’s Edge. The other participants in this project are Siemens, the US Department of Defense Homeland Defense and Security Information Analysis Center, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Washington State University. 

The award is part of a program called Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems, launched during the Obama administration under the auspices of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability within the DoE, in order to “enhance the reliability and resilience of the nation’s energy critical infrastructure,” including in the area of cybersecurity. 

According to a press release issued today, Guardtime hopes that its work on this project will help protect the United States’ “energy infrastructure from emerging cyber threats and enhance the reliability and resilience of the Nation’s critical energy infrastructure through innovative, scalable, and cost-effective research and development of cybersecurity solutions and operational capabilities.” Specific objectives include:

  • “ Real time response to unauthorized attempts to change critical [energy delivery systems] data, configurations, applications, and network appliance and sensor infrastructure.
  • Autonomous detection of data anomalies and reduces burden with normalized evidence across a unified timeline for incident analysis.
  • A data exchange platform using smart contracts for the automated trading and settlement of contracts in the electricity production value chain.”

The press release paraphrased PNNL’s primary investigator for the project, Michael Mylrea, as describing the challenges facing his industry thusly: “As we modernize our energy infrastructure, the speed, size and complexity of energy data and transactions exchanged increases exponentially.”

Guardtime CEO Mike Gault said of the partnership, “we are thrilled to work with PNNL to develop a cyber resilient energy transmission network. In order [to] achieve grid modernization we need to secure the foundations of energy transmission and the integrity of edge devices.”

This project will not mark the first major collaboration for Guardtime, which has garnered attention for its work pioneering keyless signature infrastructure. Partners on other projects have included Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and the Estonian eHealth Foundation.