The project aims to use blockchain to secure energy grid supply chain against cybercriminals. DOE’s National Technology Laboratory is conducting this work in collaboration with Colorado-based security firm Taekion. It is currently entering its second phase of development.
DOE Blockchain Electrical Grid Security
The national power grid heavily relies on computers to improve efficiency and reduce costs. However, this makes the grid vulnerable to cyber attacks. Therefore, a large scale power grid attack could disrupt energy production and supply across the country, as evidenced by what Ukraine experienced in 2016.
In its effort, the U.S Department of Energy will provide $1 million in research funding, and will seek to secure energy supply chain by decentralizing data. In addition, not only will this enable the DOE to continuously capture up-to-date data on the immutable blockchain, but it will also allow the department to track the status of the grid in real-time. If successful, the project will help safeguard the national grid against cyber attacks that could potentially disrupt the energy sector.
The press release noted:
“Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security. For example, one method of cyberattack involves compromising a system so that it appears operational when it has actually been shut down by the hackers, leaving millions without power […] The applications being developed in the NETL-managed project have the potential to thwart such attacks by preventing hackers from altering the plant’s operational information.”
Blockchain technology, when applied to cybersecurity, provides the best mechanism for critical infrastructure protection.
Recently, the DOE is funding $4.8 million for university research and development projects related to blockchain technology.
The decentralized nature of the technology makes it highly resilient to hacking attacks. Therefore, it can effectively deter bad actors from attacking essential systems like the national energy grid. It is, therefore, sensible that the DOE is exploring this disruptive technology to protect the electric grid.