The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the U.S. Energy Association (USEA), sponsored the first ever Cyber Resiliency Challenge for six electric power transmission and distribution utilities from five countries across the Balkans region seeking to improve cyber security for critical infrastructure in Europe and Eurasia. Led by experts from the U.S. energy sector, the two-day series of tabletop exercises enabled utilities to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in their systems in preparation for anticipated cyberattacks. A second Cyber Resiliency Challenge will take place later this summer and will include 13 utilities from five countries within the Black Sea region, including those in Ukraine and Moldova. The Cyber Resiliency Challenge has been informed by U.S. energy experts applying the latest “best practices” in defending critical infrastructure from cyber threats.
USAID’s support for the Cyber Resiliency Challenge is one part of the agency’s U.S.-Europe Energy Bridge initiative in Europe and Eurasia, which is accelerating Europe and Eurasia’s long-term shift towards a diverse, secure, and clean energy transition. The Energy Bridge connects European and Eurasian energy sector stakeholders and leverages the finance, technologies, and operational expertise necessary to address significant critical infrastructure investment and management needs. This work empowers the region to resist and break away from the financial and political traps used by malign actors, creates a path to more reliable, affordable energy for businesses and consumers, and promotes integration with regional and global energy markets. The Energy Bridge builds on decades of USAID support to strengthen the region’s energy security. Enhancing the cyber security of critical infrastructure operators in the region is a key component of the Energy Bridge.
The utilities participating in the Cyber Resiliency Challenge are a part of the Utility Cyber Security Initiative (UCSI), a working group of public utilities from across the Europe and Eurasia region formed by USAID and USEA in response to the significant cyberattack on a Ukrainian power distribution company in 2015.