Are You An OT Defender?


Protecting the nation’s energy infrastructure from modern threats is a noble calling. Security managers serve as a utility’s first line of defense against cyber-enabled sabotage and physical security breaches, ranging from storm surges to kinetic attacks. While their role is critical, their work can be difficult and necessary resources often limited.

To better support these front-line managers, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) created the Operational Technology (OT) Defender Fellowship Program. This elite training program offers middle- and senior-level OT security managers in the U.S. energy sector an opportunity to more fully understand the cyber strategies and tactics that adversarial state and nonstate actors use in targeting U.S. energy infrastructure.

The fellowship is sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) and hosted by Idaho National Laboratory (INL), with support from Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI).


The OT Defender Fellowship offers one cohort per year with up to 10 highly qualified participants per cohort. Ideal candidates must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be in a middle or senior management role in a U.S. energy sector, with decision-making authority and oversight responsibility of operational technology systems
  • Be nominated and supported by their organization’s leadership
  • Commit to the requirements of the fellowship, including attending quarterly in-person seminars and completing assigned activities between seminars to build utility perspective and promote information sharing
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Currently hold or be able to attain a federal security clearance at the Secret or higher level, or be in a role that justifies application for Department of Homeland Security-sponsored private sector clearance

Achieve OT Excellence @ INL

  • Engage with cyber experts and warfighters from relevant U.S. government organizations, commands, and services to gain greater insights into the tactics, techniques, and procedures of U.S. cyber adversaries
  • Learn about the geopolitical context and strategy in which cyberattacks occur and the defensive measures employed by U.S. government cyber operators
  • Develop a keener understanding of the OT threat landscape and strengthen capabilities to defend similar environments
  • Build beneficial relationships with key government agencies working to defend the nation from cyberthreats


The 12-month fellowship consists of quarterly week-long seminars (in-person or remote).

Classroom information and tabletop exercises include:

  • A tailored running of CyberStrike, a hands-on training course designed in the aftermath of cyberattacks on Ukraine’s power grid.
  • An overview of ACCELERATE training to introduce participants to INL’s Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering methodology for mitigating risk from cyber sabotage.
  • U.S. government specific deep dives into the links between utility missions and capabilities and the needs, missions and capabilities of federal agencies including DOE, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Defense’s Defense Critical Infrastructure Program.
  • Detailed briefings from U.S. government officials on nation state defense strategies and adversarial geopolitical strategies.
  • A capstone real-world, scenario-driven exercise integrating knowledge gained through the program.


  • Offer added value to your company by sharing insights you learned and leveraging the connections you made.
  • Engage in post-fellowship opportunities, including consulting with DOE on research programs and providing insights on the U.S. energy infrastructure to federal agencies


There has been significant interest in our first offering of the fellowship. For additional information and to stay informed about offerings, please contact:




The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) addresses the emerging threats of tomorrow while protecting the reliable flow of energy to Americans today by improving energy infrastructure security and supporting the Department of Energy’s national security mission. CESER’s focus is preparedness and response activities to natural and man-made threats, while ensuring a stronger, more prosperous, and secure future for the nation.

Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho National Laboratory is a world leader in providing industrial control system (ICS) cybersecurity workforce training and development. The laboratory’s distinctive history in protecting critical infrastructure systems puts the lab at the forefront of thought leadership and applied innovation in critical infrastructure cybersecurity education. INL uses a comprehensive approach to developing ICS cybersecurity training programs that can be tailored to meet the energy sector’s needs identified by the DOE, utilities, and other organizations.

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) is housed at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)3 policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. CCTI’s work drives society-wide improvement in cyber resilience through the innovative synthesis of technology, policy, and governance.