Cybersecurity: Our First Line of Defense

Cybersecurity: Our First Line of Defense
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On Wednesday, November 4, while the country was busy watching election results, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Operational Technology (OT) Defender Fellowship. This is a new collaboration with the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center for Cyber and Technology Innovation. The collaboration will deepen the cybersecurity knowledge of United States front-line critical infrastructure defenders.

Bringing those in the field together with the experts

The OT Defender Fellowship will bring operational technology security managers from across the energy sector together with national security experts from the United States government. During the year-long program, those who are chosen to participate will be able to gain a greater understanding of the strategies and tactics of those who would wish to do our country harm and how the United States government cyber operations defend us from them.

There are some requirements for participating. According to the Idaho National Laboratory, The OT Defender Fellowship offers one cohort per year with up to ten highly qualified participants per cohort. Ideal candidates must meet the following qualifications:

  •  Be in a middle or senior management role in a U.S. energy sector, with decision-making authority and oversight responsibility of operational technology systems
  • Be nominated and supported by their organization’s leadership
  • Commit to the requirements of the fellowship, including attending quarterly in-person seminars and completing assigned activities between seminars to build perspective and promote information sharing
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Currently hold or be able to attain a federal security clearance at the Secret of higher level, or be in a role that justifies application for Department of Homeland Security-sponsored private sector clearance

Cybersecurity is national security

“Operational technology security managers keep the core physical systems of our energy infrastructure running smoothly in the face of natural disasters, physical sabotage, and nation-state cyberattacks,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “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.”