The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has unveiled a cybersecurity and operations technology monitoring solution named ‘Essence’, which continuously monitors the operation of electric grids and other operational networks to give real-time situational awareness to owners and operators of critical infrastructure.
At present, Essence is used by 149 co-ops that, together, deliver power to 4.6 million meters. Other kinds of utilities can also deploy the program.
As threats and threat actors evolve, electric cooperatives consistently work to improve their cyber defenses," said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.
The program runs on a proprietary artificial intelligence system that oversees a cyber-physical rules engine, which instantly alerts operators to both physical and cyber anomalies. This instant awareness allows Essence users to quickly identify and respond to issues in real time. The technology also enhances the physical security of electric system assets such as transformers.
“Identifying, troubleshooting and responding to increasingly sophisticated cyber and physical attacks is a constant area of focus for the owners of critical infrastructure,” said Wayne McGurk, NRECA’s Chief Information Officer and Essence program lead. “Essence is uniquely positioned to empower America’s electric co-ops and other critical infrastructure owners across many sectors that can benefit from monitoring their OT and IT assets in real time.”
Essence was developed by NRECA in partnership with electric co-ops and the US Department of Energy (DOE).