Cantwell calls for strengthening energy systems cybersecurity in wake of new international ransomware attacks

In the wake of reports that a new ransomware attack has affected computer systems in multiple countries, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called for strengthening cybersecurity for the nation’s energy systems before a major vulnerability could be exploited.

“These recent attacks are another sign that we must improve the cyber security of our energy networks,” Cantwell said. “The Trump Administration has been dragging their feet on this urgent task—we need action now to keep our energy networks safe.”

In a release, the senator specifically called into question the 32 percent cut to the Department of Energy’s cybersecurity budget as part of the Trump Administration’s FY2018 budget while requesting a comprehensive cybersecurity plan “without further delay.”

Cantwell and 18 of her Senate colleagues recently sent a public letter to both the White House and the Department of Energy requesting an analysis of Russian capabilities in regards to cyber attacks on the U.S. energy infrastructure within 60 days time.

“Instead of responsibly performing the requested assessment, your administration has proposed slashing funding to the very offices tasked with protecting our grid from Russian cyber attacks,” the senators wrote. “How can our government protect our national security assets if the administration does not allocate the necessary resources?”

On June 12, the cybersecurity firm Dragos released a report stating that malware could be used against U.S.-based electric transmission and distribution systems.

“It’s important to have the tools in place to monitor critical infrastructure today,” Cantwell said. “We need to make the right investment to protect our grid.”


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