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U.S. Requires Critical Pipelines To Beef Up Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued on Tuesday a new security directive requiring owners and operators of critical oil and gas pipelines to implement additional protection against cyberattacks.

This is the second Security Directive that DHS’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced since the ransomware attack on a major fuel pipeline two months ago.

In early May, a ransomware attack on the computer network of the key fuel pipeline for the U.S. East Coast, Colonial Pipeline, forced the pipeline operator to shut it down for five days. The cyberattack and the subsequent shut down of the main pipeline for the Eastern Seaboard resulted in fuel shortages, a run to gas stations, and a spike in gasoline prices. As of May 13, the U.S. national average price of regular gasoline had jumped to $3.028 per gallon, topping the $3 mark for the first time since 2014.  

Today’s Security Directive requires owners and operators of TSA-designated critical pipelines to implement specific mitigation measures to protect against ransomware attacks and other known threats to information technology and operational technology systems, develop and implement a cybersecurity contingency and recovery plan, and conduct a cybersecurity architecture design review, the Department of Homeland Security said.

The initial Security Directive from May 2021 required critical pipeline owners and operators to report confirmed and potential cybersecurity incidents to the Department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), designate a Cybersecurity Coordinator to be available 24/7, review current practices, and identify any gaps and related remediation measures to address cyber-related risks and report the results to TSA and CISA within 30 days.

“Through this Security Directive, DHS can better ensure the pipeline sector takes the steps necessary to safeguard their operations from rising cyber threats, and better protect our national and economic security,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement today.

Last month, 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 Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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