Project collaborators at Oak Ridge National Lab take on 18 Nov 2019. From left: James Taylor (NSRI), Michael Hempel (UNL), Kalyan Perumalla (ORNL), Juan Lopez (ORNL), Joshua Mauk (OPPD)
A team of researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in collaboration with the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) and the Nebraska power and energy sector won a $3 million competitive research grant from the Department of Energy for a three-year project, entitled: "A Cyber-Physical Security Assurance Framework based on a Semi-Supervised Vetting Approach" (CYVET).
Hamid Sharif and his UNL research team — Michael Hempel, Dongming Peng and Mahmoud Alahmad with Juan Lopez and Kalyan Perumalla of ORNL and James Taylor of NSRI — will investigate novel approaches to verify and validate the cybersecurity of both OT equipment in energy delivery systems and the underlying control systems. This effort will be supported by the Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska Public Power District, Lincoln Electric System and South Sioux City.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to expand cybersecurity collaborations with our research partners,” said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson, NSRI Executive Director. “The capability that CYVET will deliver promises a game-changing shift in OT cybersecurity that will pay off in enhanced security across our critical infrastructure systems in the DoD and private sector."
NSRI will provide cybersecurity expertise and identify technology transition opportunities to a variety of domains and potential critical infrastructure operators throughout the Department of Defense.
CYVET will also aid in training and educating the next generation of engineers and scientists, and foster awareness and competency in the cybersecurity arena, for the energy sector and beyond.
“CYVET will lead to a new paradigm for system designers who can conduct evaluations of cybersecurity claims from vendors before they are incorporated into a design,” Sharif said. “The resulting cybersecurity rating system, similar to the ‘Energy Star’ energy efficiency rating system, could add to UNL’s reputation as a leader in cybersecurity research for OT systems."
About the National Strategic Research Institute
Founded in 2012, the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska is the only University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) in the country dedicated to delivering solutions for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and across other federal agencies. NSRI provides research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and other governmental agencies in multiple mission-critical competency areas — including development of medical countermeasures to WMD; nuclear detection and forensics; consequence management; chemical and biological weapons detection; and space, cyber, and telecom law. Learn more at nsri.nebraska.edu.