Recently, Patrick Kelley, a seasoned cybersecurity expert and founder of Léargas Security, joined Courtney Doyle on the Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s podcast, “Co-OP Energy Talk,” to discuss the ever-evolving challenges and strategies in protecting our electric utilities.


Cybersecurity: A Complex and Dynamic Field

Patrick Kelley opens the discussion by highlighting his extensive experience, spanning nearly three decades in IT and cybersecurity. With this expertise, he has established two pioneering companies, Critical Path Security and Léargas Security, aimed at enhancing cybersecurity frameworks for EMCs and cooperatives.


The cybersecurity landscape, as Kelley notes, is complex and continuously evolving, necessitating robust and adaptive strategies especially tailored for the utility sector.


Tailored Cybersecurity for Electric Cooperatives

Kelley's approach with Léargas Security involves creating comprehensive solutions that consolidate multiple cybersecurity functions into one affordable and manageable system. This is particularly beneficial for electric cooperatives, which often face budgetary constraints that limit their ability to purchase and train for multiple security solutions.


Unique Challenges in the Utility Sector

Discussing the unique cybersecurity challenges faced by electric cooperatives, Kelley explains that the infrastructure in these entities, such as substations and transformers, is intended to last decades without needing frequent updates. This longevity, while beneficial for operational continuity, poses significant security risks as these systems were not designed to combat today's cybersecurity threats.


Furthermore, Kelley touches upon the difficulty electric cooperatives face in competing with private industry in terms of salaries, making it challenging to attract and retain skilled cybersecurity professionals. This is compounded by the fact that many cooperatives operate with a very lean staff, often relying on a single individual to manage all cybersecurity-related tasks.


The Critical Role of Cybersecurity Staff

The scarcity of cybersecurity professionals within EMCs and cooperatives not only stresses the existing workforce but also increases the vulnerability of these essential services to cyber threats. Kelley emphasizes the importance of supporting these workers with adequate resources and training to effectively safeguard our critical infrastructure.


Regulatory Challenges and Future Directions

Kelley also highlights the new federal regulations requiring rapid response to cybersecurity incidents, a daunting task for many under-resourced cooperatives. The pressure to comply with these mandates within tight deadlines can overwhelm even the most well-prepared organizations.



The insights shared by Patrick Kelley underscore the critical importance of developing robust cybersecurity measures tailored to the unique needs and challenges of electric cooperatives. At Léargas Security, we are committed to pioneering solutions that not only protect against current threats but also anticipate future challenges, ensuring the security and resilience of our utility infrastructures.


Listen below!