Are You An OT Defender?


Protecting the nation’s energy infrastructure from modern threats is vital to maintaining national security, a vibrant economy, and public health and safety. Security managers serve as a utility’s first line of defense against cyber-enabled sabotage and physical security breaches, ranging from financially motivated material theft to reconnaissance to deliberate attacks in cyberspace and in the physical world. While their role is critical, their work is challenging, and resources are 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 highly-selective education 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, and how the U.S. government is postured to counter these adversarial activities.

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 a small number of highly qualified participants per cohort. Please see “For More Information” section for upcoming offerings.

Ideal candidates have the following characteristics:

  • Be in a management role in a U.S. energy sector asset owner or operator organization, with decision-making authority and oversight responsibility for the security or operations of operational technology systems – senior enough to influence the strategy and tactics of the organization, and in touch with how the work is performed on the front lines
  • Have the support of their manager and of the 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 (required)
  • Currently holds an active federal security clearance

Achieve OT Excellence @ INL

  • Develop a keener understanding of the OT threat landscape and strengthen capabilities to defend similar environments
  • Engage with cyber experts and warfighters from relevant U.S. government organizations, commands, and services to gain greater insights into the tactics and techniques of cyber adversaries
  • Learn about the geopolitical context and strategy in which cyberattacks occur and the defensive measures employed by U.S. government cyber operators
  • 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 and remote). Classroom information and tabletop exercises include:

  • Application of the Cyber-Informed Engineering (CIE) framework and training to introduce participants to INL’s Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering methodology for mitigating risk from cyber sabotage.
  • A tailored running of CyberStrike, a hands-on training course designed in the aftermath of cyberattacks on Ukraine’s power grid.
  • 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, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Department of Defense’s Defense Critical Infrastructure Program.
  • 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.


DOE logoThe 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.

Participating Laboratories and Organizations

inlIdaho 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 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.

For More Information

The next Fellowship cohort is expected to launch March 2022.

For additional information, see DOE’s Press Release or contact Program Administrators at: