US Department of Energy Launches New Program for Technology Security Managers

Nov 10, 2020
Smart Factory Security

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched the Operational Technology (OT) Defender Fellowship. Another milestone step from the Department in enhancing the US’s critical infrastructure.

In collaboration with DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Center for Cyber and Technology Innovation (CTTI), the OT Defender Fellowship hopes to expand the knowledge of primary US front-line critical infrastructure defenders.

“In support of the President’s Cybersecurity Workforce Executive Order, the Department of Energy is proud to support this elite training program to create opportunities to grow America’s cyber workforce,” says DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette.

Briolette also said that operation technology security managers play a vital role in keeping the core physical systems of the US’s energy infrastructure running smoothly, especially during natural disasters, physical sabotage, and even nation-state cyberattacks.

Sharing cybersecurity knowledge to the private sector

The OT Defender Fellowship is a 12-month program for operational technology security managers in the US energy sector. It will enable the program participants to engage with various cyber and national experts across the US government. The program aims to also equip them with a better understanding of the strategies and tactics of the country’s adversaries and how the US government cyber operations defend the nation.

“Understanding an adversary’s strategy and tactics is critical to effective defense,” explains CSC Commissioner Samantha Ravich, chair of FDD’s CCTI.

The Fellowship aligns with the bipartisan recommendations of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC).

“Securing our energy infrastructure is not an abstract policy idea, it is an immediate need to protect our nation from the real threat of malign actors,” says Senator Angus King, CSC co-chair.

King also explains that the CSC report supports operationalizing cybersecurity partnership with the private sector and remolding how the government works with the private sector. King added that this DOE initiative will better protect the US from cyberattacks.

Tom Fanning, Chairman, President & CEO of Southern Company, says that national security greatly depends on the collaboration between private sector and the government.

“As a world leader in securing operational technology and industrial control systems from cyber threats, INL is looking forward to sharing our knowledge and experiences with the private sector through this important fellowship,” said Zach Tudor, INL associate laboratory director for National and Homeland Security programs. “This fellowship expands on many of the lab's successful research and development programs, our at-scale testing capabilities, and our comprehensive training and workforce development initiatives,” Fanning adds.

To qualify for the fellowship, participants must be in a middle or senior management role in a US energy sector, with decision-making authority and oversight responsibility of operational technology systems. They must also be nominated by their organization’s leadership and commit to the requirements imposed by the program. The participant must also be a US citizen and currently hold or be able to attain federal security clearance at the Secret or higher level, or be in a role that justifies application for Department of Homeland Security-sponsored private sector clearance.

For more information about the OT Defender Fellowship, visit

Author: Ericka Pingol

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