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U.S. Congress Passes Cyber Attacks Reporting Bill

The U.S. Senate passed on Thursday a cyber incident reporting bill requiring operators of critical infrastructure to report to the federal government incidents of hacks or ransomware payments.

Earlier this week, the House also approved the bill, which is now going to President Joe Biden to sign into law.  

“Thank you to Congress for passing the bill that mandates cyber incident reporting to the federal government. This is a huge step forward for our nation’s cybersecurity,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted late on Thursday.  

Under the new legislation, operators of critical infrastructure—which includes energy infrastructure of all kinds—are mandated to report to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 hours of a cybersecurity breach and within 24 hours if the operator has paid a ransom. 

“Put plainly, this legislation is a game-changer. Today marks a critical step forward in the collective cybersecurity of our nation,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said in a statement on Friday.

“CISA will use these reports from our private sector partners to build a common understanding of how our adversaries are targeting U.S. networks and critical infrastructure,” Easterly added.

Following several cyberattacks or attempts of such in recent months, and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cybersecurity has come to the forefront of keeping critical infrastructure secure.

Several high-profile cyberattacks have occurred in the past year alone, including the major ransomware attack on the computer network of the key fuel pipeline for the U.S. East Coast, Colonial Pipeline. That cyberattack in May 2021 forced the pipeline operator to shut it down for five days. The cyberattack and the subsequent shut down of the pipeline resulted in fuel shortages, a run to gas stations, and a spike in U.S. gasoline prices.

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A month after the Colonial Pipeline attack, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said there were malign cyber actors capable of shutting down the U.S. power grid or parts of it, calling for increased public-private cooperation in fending off cyberattacks.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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