Critical Utilities In Europe and Eurasia Participate in the ETAG Cyber Resiliency Challenge

Cybersecurity is energy security. Utilities in Europe and Eurasia seek to strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities to ensure continuity of operation and to meet standards for integration with the European energy networks.

To meet this need, the USEA Energy Technology and Governance Program, in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development, developed the Cyber Resiliency Challenge: a preparedness and response activity that simulates a cyberattack on an electric utility.

The Cyber Resiliency Challenge is a replicable, facilitated, storyline-based exercise for teams. Modeled after known current attacks on critical infrastructure operators, the exercise provides an applied problem-solving environment for utilities to: improve their capacity to identify and mitigate system vulnerabilities; validate their incident readiness; test cybersecurity-related resiliency; build organizational awareness of cybersecurity issues; improve knowledge of adversarial tactics; and strengthen their teams.

USEA recently hosted two Cyber Resiliency Challenge exercises. The first included participants from six utility operators from five countries across the Balkans region. The second exercise included 13 utilities from five countries within the Black Sea region, including those in Ukraine and Moldova.

Based on the experience of the nearly 20 critical infrastructure operators that participated, three important findings emerged:

  • Utilities should continue to support and prioritize incident response readiness. Scenario-based exercises like the Cyber Resiliency Challenge are an effective way to identify incident response improvement opportunities.
  • Within the resource challenged environment in which they operate, utilities in Europe and Eurasia can immediately apply low cost, low technology improvements to strengthen their resilience and response to attack.
  • Regional collaboration—between energy operators in the same country, region, or energy system—is beneficial and possible. In additional to sharing threat information and best practices, utilities may leverage each other for assistance in the event of a major attack.

The ETAG Cyber Resiliency Challenge was developed and informed by US experts, using best practices in critical infrastructure cybersecurity.

Related Resources:
8 Recommendations For Utility Operators To Consider When Responding To A Cyber Attack
Project Profile: Cyber Resiliency Challenge
USAID Press Release on the Cyber Resiliency Challenge