Rural co-ops praise Senate cyber bill

Following Senate passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) on Oct. 30, Kirk Johnson, senior vice-president of government relations at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), 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 the Congress to move forward into conferencing their cybersecurity 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.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.