Says U.S. must better protect electric grid from impending cyber-attacks
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 9, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — During a hearing today in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) said the United States must better prepare the electricity grid for cyber-attacks, particularly in the wake of last week’s announcement about a cyber-breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
“We are going to have a serious cyber-attack. The next Pearl Harbor is going to be cyber. […] We’ve got to do something,” Senator King said. “[…] We keep getting these warning shots – and they’re all serious but when it’s the gas pipeline system, or the electric grid, or the finance system, how long is it going to take till we understand that it’s significant?”
A report last year by the Bipartisan Policy Center entitled, “Cybersecurity and the North American Electric Grid,” pointed out that, according to evidence collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, cyber-attacks on key energy infrastructure – particularly the electricity system – are increasing both in frequency and sophistication.
Mr. Duane Highley, a witness at today’s hearing who’s the CEO and Chief Accountability Office for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, underscored that point. In response to Senator King he said, “In fact, we are already seeing Pearl Harbor and we are already under attack in the electric sector.”
Senator King also pointed out during the hearing that if distributed energy resources – such as solar panels, which allow customers to produce their own energy – were more prevalent, then there would be less overall reliance on a centralized electric grid, which could in turn reduce the impact of a cyber-attack in the event one caused a mass power outage. Senator King introduced legislation earlier this year – the Free Market Energy Act of 2015 – that would foster the continued development of advanced distributed renewable technologies to cultivate a new era of energy independence for people across the nation.
Senator King has long been concerned about the threats cyber-attacks pose to the country’s critical infrastructure – such as the electricity grid or financial system – and has been a strong and vocal advocate of passing cyber-security legislation. Following the news last week of the substantial cyber-breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Senator King again renewed his call to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).