The U.S. Department of Energy is exploring blockchain technology as a line of defense against cyberattacks on power plants.
The department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) unit announced Wednesday that phase two of an electric grid security project has been launched in partnership with decentralized cybersecurity startup Taekion, formerly Grid7.
The laboratory provided a grant of $1 million to Taekion last year, and now as part of the second phase of the project, the startup will research on how blockchain technology can be used to secure a power plant, by keeping all sensor, actuator and device transactions on a distributed ledger.
“Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security,” NETL said, adding that, when the storage of key information is decentralized, “there is no single point of failure.”
In an example of how a cyberattack could take place on a power plant, the lab said a system could be compromised so that it appears operational when it has actually been shut down by hackers, potentially “leaving millions without power.” Such an attack took place at a power plant in Ukraine in 2016, the laboratory said, which caused widespread power outages during the winter months.
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