Cooperatives congratulate Senate on approving bill to strengthen cybersecurity

Following Senate passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) on October 27, Kirk Johnson, senior vice-president of government relations at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, thanked Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chair Diane Feinstein for bipar­tisan leadership on a bill to promote multi­directional voluntary infor­mation sharing by the government and ­businesses in response to cyber threats.

“Cooperatives are committed to providing reliable power at the ­lowest cost to their consumer members and protecting the reliability and security of the bulk power system. Robust, volun­tary information ­sharing between and among members of the electric sector and government agencies will be ­absolutely vital to electric utilities, including America’s electric ­cooperatives. We are ­grateful to Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chair Diane Feinstein for their leader­ship in creating a foundation for effective cybersecurity that also, ­appropriately, protects individual ­privacy,” said Johnson.

“The sooner this bill becomes law, the better. We urge Congress to move forward into conferencing their cyber-security information sharing legislation and sending a bill to the President’s desk.”

NRECA works closely with its ­members to promote security and ­resilience against cyber-attacks.

• Over the last several years, ­cooperatives have worked diligently with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and federal agencies to strengthen ­reliability standards including a ­significant set of cybersecurity standards to maintain and protect the reliability of the bulk power system.

• With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, NRECA is producing a prototype security system that will rapidly identify network security threats and make it easier to keep networks safe. The Essence team includes Pacific Northwest National Lab, Honeywell and Carnegie Mellon University. The research project runs until March 2016.