The US Department of Energy has launched a cybersecurity competition aimed at assisting small electric utilities in enhancing their cybersecurity readiness. Valued at $9 million, the Advanced Cybersecurity Technology (ACT) 1 Prize Competition is part of the Biden administration’s broader Rural and Municipal Utility Cybersecurity (RMUC) Program, which allocates $250 million over five years to enhance cybersecurity among cooperative, municipal, and small investor-owned electric utilities.
The inaugural ACT 1 Prize Competition has an allocated budget of $8.96 million in cash and technical support and is divided into three phases: commitment, planning, and implementation.
In the planning phase, participating utilities are required to detail their existing resources and outline their cybersecurity improvement needs. The competition’s first phase is set to conclude by November 29, 2023. The Energy Department elaborated that utilities demonstrating a commitment to enhancing their cybersecurity posture through investments in cybersecurity technologies, staff training, and governance enhancements will be awarded cash prizes and technical support.
During the planning phase, utilities will evaluate their systems, identify training areas, assess potential risks and solutions, and draft a roadmap for implementation. The final phase will see utilities executing their drafted implementation roadmap.
Cash prizes and technical assistance will be provided to electric utilities in the second and third phases based on their accomplishments. Detailed information about the competition can be found on a dedicated webpage and the Energy Department’s official website.
This initiative closely follows the White House’s recent announcement of a competition focused on creating innovative AI systems capable of defending critical software against hacking attempts, reflecting the growing attention to bolstering cybersecurity across various sectors.