House Dems ask GAO to investigate cybersecurity at utilities
House Democrats recently requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate cybersecurity issues related to the U.S. electricity grid.
Over the past year, multiple attacks against U.S. infrastructure components have been launched by hackers from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, the lawmakers said, citing the Department of Homeland Security.
These hackers have been implicated in attacks against U.S. nuclear power plants and other elements of the electric grid.
In 2017, DHS issued a directive banning the use of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab computer security products by U.S. government agencies due to concerns that Russian intelligence agencies may influence the company. However, this directive does not apply to the operators of U.S. public utility companies.
In the letter, the Democratic lawmakers are asking the GAO to evaluate cybersecurity risks to the electric grid. They also want to know if electric utilities have cybersecurity staff and training and whether they are employing best practices and implementing cybersecurity standards. Further, they want to know if these utilities use Kaspersky Lab products.
“The threats against our critical infrastructure are widespread, growing and deeply concerning,” Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Donald Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) wrote in the letter. “The ability to respond to these cyber dangers and emerging risks within our critical infrastructure varies greatly among small and large companies and public and private entities…Cyberattacks and the potential consequences of these attacks against critical infrastructure are escalating. This has made the need to thoroughly address the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our critical infrastructure paramount.”
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