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USC, Northrop Grumman collaborate on security systems

A pumpjack at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in New Mexico (Photo/Jimwmurphy)

Northrop Grumman and the USC Energy Institute (USCEI), based at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, have agreed to develop capabilities to support the application of integrated cyber and physical security systems to critical infrastructure of the oil and gas industry.

The collaboration expands the breadth and depth of the long-standing relationship between Northrop Grumman and USC. The program uniquely combines the former’s capabilities, experience and linkages in defense, physical security and cybersecurity, and information systems, with USC’s strengths in petroleum engineering and operations, advanced information systems, and cybersecurity technology development. To enable the program’s development and the engagement with the oil and gas industry, Northrop Grumman will provide a grant to USCEI.

“This USC-NGC program adds an exciting, new and vital dimension to the mission of the USCEI and builds on the long-standing relationship of the university with Northrop Grumman,” said Donald Paul, executive director of USCEI. “The program supports the development of unique technical and operational capabilities to support the oil and gas industry in securing their critical infrastructures from an increasingly complex set of threats.”

The plans for the collaboration will involve an integrated technology and process systems approach to securing oil and gas infrastructure, including physical protection, operational integrity and resilience, and defense against cyberattack. For example, in the cyberprotection area, a full security solution must encompass the “pure IT” networks as well as the field and facility control networks that are essential to the operation of oil and gas production, processing and distribution facilities.

The program developed through the collaboration will be designed to go beyond traditional research and development approaches to focus on complex system integration, the convergence of cyber and physical security technologies, and the development of field demonstrations of scale with key oil and gas industry partners. These programs will also create new educational, employment and workforce development opportunities at the intersection of information technology, security, energy infrastructure and petroleum engineering.

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