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Hydropower and Dam Cybersecurity: Protection and Monitoring Using Next Generation Data Diodes

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0023974
Agency Tracking Number: 0000274358
Amount: $206,500.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: C56-14c
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0002903
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-07-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-04-09
Small Business Information
4600 Fairfax Dr STE 410
Arlington, VA 22203-1560
United States
DUNS: 080992384
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Colin Dunn
 (703) 982-0287
Business Contact
 Colin Dunn
Phone: (703) 982-0287
Research Institution

As our nation takes the global lead in transitioning to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels, hydropower’s role as a key component in this transition will only increase. With increasing reliance on hydropower, the Nation also faces dam infrastructure that is rapidly aging, necessitating a technological and Industrial Control System (ICS) modernization which increasingly relies on connectivity to increase efficiency and reliability. This modernization of the hydropower infrastructure opens up new vulnerabilities for cyberattack, ransomware, and malware leaving America’s dam and hydropower operators looking for ways to improve cybersecurity without sacrificing connectivity. To physically blocks cyberattacks on critical infrastructure with US-made, low-cost industrial data diodes. These devices have been deployed across water treatment, nuclear power, manufacturing, and defense sectors, getting data out of critical industrial control systems and into the hands of operators in a physically enforced, one-way fashion. This project seeks to develop additional data diode capabilities unique to the hydropower and dam fleet and provide rapidly deployable cyber defense for users like the US Bureau of Reclamation and others tasked with running these increasingly important systems. The goal is to commercialize a version of its next-generation data diode concept to cost-effectively serve a broader set of cybersecurity needs of the dam and hydropower community.
Technical Solution: The project team will adapt low-cost industrial data diode technology for the hydropower and dam sector. The first key task is ensuring the hardware is capable of capturing and transmitting data that is relevant to the hydropower and dam sector. The second key task is to ensure the hardware provides robust communications and greater geographic coverage via cellular and other means. These enhancements offer the opportunity to strengthen the defenses of hydropower and dam infrastructure while making it physically impossible for an outside attacker to inject malware, ransomware, or other attacks on hydropower and dam assets. Further, the technology will provide visibility into control system networks without granting access. The project team will complete several tasks including determining sector requirements, hardware and firmware design development, and interactions with industry stakeholders. The approach could also to market success in other industrial applications, in particular the water and wastewater sectors and electrical cooperatives, as well as transportation, other remote energy applications (like substations), and manufacturing as customers look for ways to better protect industrial assets.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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