Con­gress un­nerved by hack of en­ergy grid

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jeremy Dil­lon

WASHINGTON» For months, Sen. Maria Cantwell has been warn­ing in let­ters to the Trump administration and col­leagues that Con­gress needs to do more to keep the na­tion’s en­ergy sup­ply safe from cy­ber­at­tacks. Now it ap­pears she has a wide­spread at­tack to bol­ster her ad­mo­ni­tions.

Re­ports from Bloomberg and The New York Times last week in­di­cated that Rus­sian-backed hack­ing groups may be re­spon­si­ble for re­cent tar­geted cy­ber­at­tacks to nu­clear power plants and grid op­er­a­tion sys­tem man­u­fac­tur­ers, threat­en­ing the elec­tric grid and the econ­omy it sup­ports.

While the FBI and De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity say they are aware of the “po­ten­tial cy­ber in­tru­sion af­fect­ing en­ti­ties in the en­ergy sec­tor,” the agen­cies said “there is no in­di­ca­tion of a threat to pub­lic safety, as any po­ten­tial im­pact ap­pears to be lim­ited to ad­min­is­tra­tive and busi­ness net­works.”

But for Cantwell, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee, the hacks are just the lat­est signs of how vul­ner­a­ble the elec­tric grid is to for­eign threats.

“The dis­turb­ing re­ports of the past 24 hours in­di­cate that our ad­ver­saries are try­ing to take ad­van­tage of the very real vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of our en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture’s cy­ber de­fenses,” Cantwell said in a state­ment to CQ Roll Call.

She added that she is “re­it­er­at­ing my call for Pres­i­dent Trump to im­me­di­ately per­form the long over­due as­sess­ment of cy­ber vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that 19 senators have re­quested, and aban­don his pro­posed cuts to the De­part­ment of En­ergy’s of­fice tasked with pro­tect­ing our en­ergy net­works from cy­ber at­tacks.”

DOE’s Of­fice of Elec­tric­ity De­liv­ery and En­ergy Re­li­a­bil­ity — the pro­gram area re­spon­si­ble for cy­ber­se­cu­rity-re­lated ef­forts — would see a more than 40 per­cent re­duc­tion in fund­ing in fis­cal 2018, ac­cord­ing to the DOE bud­get re­quest.

In March, Washington’s Cantwell joined with Sen. Ron Wy­den, D-Ore., in a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to high­light the need to bol­ster the De­part­ment of En­ergy’s role as lead agency in de­fend­ing against grid cy­ber­at­tacks, es­pe­cially from Rus­sia. In a fol­low-up June 22 let­ter, Cantwell led a group of 18 other Demo­cratic senators in call­ing for a 60-day anal­y­sis of Rus­sian ca­pa­bil­i­ties “to use cy­ber war­fare to threaten our en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture.”

DOE has ac­knowl­edged the se­ri­ous­ness of the threat. In its sec­ond Qua­dren­nial En­ergy Re­view, a sweep­ing anal­y­sis of the en­ergy sec­tor con­ducted un­der the Obama administration, DOE said that the cy­ber­se­cu­rity of the grid re­mains a key vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and it should be treated with the same im­por­tance as other na­tional se­cu­rity threats.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.