Researcher – Cybersecurity OT/ICS

at National Renewable Energy Lab
Published March 7, 2023
Location Golden, CO
Category Default  
Job Type Full-time  


Posting Title

Researcher – Cybersecurity OT/ICS



CO - Golden


Position Type



Hours Per Week



COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Employment at NREL is contingent upon your compliance with all NREL and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) safety protocols and mitigation efforts directed at the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working at NREL

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado is the nation's primary laboratory for research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

From day one at NREL, you’ll connect with coworkers driven by the same mission to save the planet. By joining an organization that values a supportive, inclusive, and flexible work environment, you’ll have the opportunity to engage through our eight employee resource groups, numerous employee-driven clubs, and learning and professional development classes.

NREL supports inclusive, diverse, and unbiased hiring practices that promote creativity and innovation. By collaborating with organizations that focus on diverse talent pools, reaching out to underrepresented demographics, and providing an inclusive application and interview process, our Talent Acquisition team aims to hear all voices equally. We strive to attract a highly diverse workforce and create a culture where every employee feels welcomed and respected and they can be their authentic selves.

Our planet needs us! Learn about NREL’s critical objectives, and see how NREL is focused on saving the planet.

Note: Research suggests that potential job seekers may self-select out of opportunities if they don't meet 100% of the job requirements. We encourage anyone who is interested in this opportunity to apply. We seek dedicated people who believe they have the skills and ambition to succeed at NREL to apply for this role.

Job Description

The Cybersecurity Evaluation and Application Group (CEAG), within NREL’s Energy and Security Resilience Center, performs research to better understand the threats, detection strategies and mitigation opportunities for renewable energy infrastructure and distributed energy resources. Our efforts include technical assessments of existing technologies and near-term innovations, research into industrial control systems (ICS) security, network architectures and protocols, as well as informing the development and application of cybersecurity frameworks and policy. CEAG researchers collaborate with government and industry partners to contribute to a more secure and resilient renewable energy infrastructure with global impact.

Cybersecurity Evaluation and Application Group applied cybersecurity researchers perform hands-on technical research and assessments. Researchers have the opportunity to drive NREL research in ICS security and help advance a rapidly growing cybersecurity portfolio. Team members work alongside current NREL research staff to utilize the best-in-class cyber range to deploy applicable large scale test environments, perform hardware-in-the-loop technology assessments, and research ICS threats, detection, and mitigation strategies as they pertain to renewable energy. Research spans across ICS and renewable energy technologies and includes collaboration and partnership with utility and cyber security solution providers as well as government stakeholders.

NREL is seeking a cybersecurity professional to participate in supply chain security research focusing on critical energy infrastructure. Technical experience in enumerating devices, analyzing vulnerabilities, and reverse engineering is preferred. The successful candidate will bring a strong technical security background, a familiarity with cybersecurity best practices for distributed energy, and the ability to collaborate with partners from across national labs, Department of Energy, industry, and academia.


  • Perform cybersecurity vulnerability testing and enumeration on energy system component software and firmware to secure critical energy infrastructure

  • Conduct analysis and document test results, develop standardized testing process and format (e.g., bill of materials) to report vulnerabilities in database for analysis

  • Collaborate with fellow researchers, partner laboratories, industrial and academic partners to ensure research relevance and impact

  • Maintain familiarity with applicable security guidance and best practices applied in industry

  • Mentor junior researchers.

Note: This position will require regular in-person job duties and is not eligible for 100% remote options.


Basic Qualifications

Relevant Master's Degree . Or, relevant Bachelor's Degree and 2 or more years of experience . General knowledge and application of engineering technical standards, principles, theories, concepts and techniques. Training in team, task or project leadership responsibilities. Intermediate abilities and knowledge of practices and techniques. Beginning experience in project management. Good writing, interpersonal and communication skills.


Additional Required Qualifications

  • Demonstrated experience securing distributed critical infrastructure systems through involvement with system architecture, deployment, operations, and monitoring

  • Experience deploying and configuring operational technology system components such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), RTUs, PLCs, and HMIs

  • Familiarity with ICS protocols such as DNP3, Modbus, and IEC 61850

  • Experience with Python, Bash, C or other programming/scripting languages

  • Experience working with both Windows and Linux operating systems

  • Experience with networking fundamentals and network analysis (Packet Captures).

  • Clearance: Must be able to obtain and maintain a DOE (L or Q) security clearance and SCI access. SCI access may require a polygraph examination. To obtain a clearance, an individual must be at least 18 years of age; U.S. citizenship is required except in very limited circumstances. See DOE Order 472.2 for additional information.

Preferred Qualifications

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with red or purple team engagements against operational technology (OT) systems

  • Experience with virtualization (VMware, virtual box, QEMU)

  • Familiarity with tools used in reverse engineering, fuzzing, and binary analysis

  • Familiarity with applicable security frameworks, best practices and guidance as provided by IEC62443, NERC CIP, NIST and IEEE

  • Certifications that demonstrate proficiency in cybersecurity best practices, ICS security and/or vulnerability assessment (Examples: GICSP, CSSA, GPEN, OSCP, CISSP).


Annual Salary Range (based on full-time 40 hours per week)

Job Profile: Researcher II / Annual Salary Range: $69,400 - $114,500

NREL takes into consideration a candidate’s education, training, and experience, as well as the position's work location, expected quality and quantity of work, required travel (if any), external market and internal value, including seniority and merit systems, and internal pay alignment when determining the salary level for potential new employees. In compliance with the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a potential new employee’s salary history will not be used in compensation decisions.

Benefits Summary

Benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance; short*- and long-term disability insurance; pension benefits*; 403(b) Employee Savings Plan with employer match*; life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance; personal time off (PTO) and sick leave; paid holidays; and tuition reimbursement*. NREL employees may be eligible for, but are not guaranteed, performance-, merit-, and achievement- based awards that include a monetary component. Some positions may be eligible for relocation expense reimbursement. Limited-term positions are not eligible for long-term disability or tuition reimbursement.

***** Based on eligibility rules

Submission Guidelines

Please note that in order to be considered an applicant for any position at NREL you must submit an application form for each position for which you believe you are qualified. Applications are not kept on file for future positions. Please include a cover letter and resume with each position application.


EEO Policy

NREL is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard basis of age (40 and over), color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, military or veteran status, national origin/ancestry, race, religion, creed, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding), sexual orientation, and any other applicable status protected by federal, state, or local laws.

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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to secure an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. With locations in Golden and Boulder, Colorado, and a satellite office in Washington, D.C., NREL is the primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies in the United States.

NREL is subject to Department of Energy (DOE) access restrictions. All candidates must be authorized to access the facility per DOE rules and guidance within a reasonable time frame for the specified position in order to be considered for an interview. DOE rules for site access during the interview process are the same regardless of whether the candidate is interviewed on-site, off-site, or via telephone or videoconference. Additionally, DOE contractor employees are prohibited from participating in certain Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs (FGTRPs). If a candidate is currently participating in an FGTRP, they will be required to disclose their participation after receiving an offer of employment and may be required to disengage from participation in the FGTRP prior to commencing employment. Any offer of employment is conditional on the ability to obtain work authorization and to be granted access to NREL by the Department of Energy (DOE). We understand that COVID-19 may have caused delays or closures at offices, consulates, and embassies. However, NREL cannot make exceptions to work authorization and access requirements, and exceptions to these requirements are not being made for COVID-19 related delays.

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