When it comes to the security of sensitive information in the energy sector, collaboration between the Department of Energy, intelligence community, and private sector are foundational to these efforts, Senior Advisor at the Office of Policy for Cybersecurity, Energy Security, & Emergency Response Alexander Gates said.

Speaking before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Gates cited executive order (EO) 13920 to secure the countries bulk power system and emphasized how important working with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and other partners are to this mission.

“Cybersecurity in the energy sector is a complex endeavor that will require more authorities, laws and, in some respects, extreme level of collaboration to achieve,” Gates said. “Utility owners, coordinating councils, trade groups are all very effective partners in this fight. Collectively, these entities form the fabric of a public-private partnership that everyday serves to protect the nation’s energy infrastructure.”

Gates also said that there should be a greater level of investment to identify threats and quickly mitigate them, but acknowledged that it’s a difficult question when there’s so much private ownership over the energy sector.

“What that investment looks like, I can’t say, but I know it’s not enough,” Gates said. “The system is so large and expansive, and you have such different kinds of stakeholder that can invest a lot on their own … so it’s a complicated problem that needs to be addressed, but it will require more investment.”

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