US to Boost Pipeline Cyber Protections in Wake of Colonial Hack

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WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is working with pipeline companies to strengthen protections against cyberattacks following the Colonial Pipeline hack and will announce actions in the coming days, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Tuesday.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a unit of the DHS, “is coordinating with companies in the pipeline sector to ensure they are taking all necessary steps to increase their resilience to cyber threats and secure their systems,” the agency said.

The TSA is collaborating with another branch of DHS, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. DHS said it will release more details “in the days ahead” without providing particulars.

The Washington Post reported DHS is preparing to issue its first mandatory cybersecurity regulations on pipelines, citing senior officials.

In the past, the TSA has provided voluntary guidelines on cybersecurity for pipelines.

The TSA would require pipeline companies to report cyber incidents to the federal government, senior DHS officials told the newspaper.

After a ransomware attack forced Colonial to shut its entire network for 11 days this month, thousands of gas stations across the U.S. Southeast ran out of fuel. Motorists fearing prolonged shortages raced to fill up their cars.

The closure of the 5,500-mile system was the most disruptive cyberattack on record, preventing millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from flowing to the East Coast from the Gulf Coast.

The new regulations were discussed after DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other top officials considered how they could use existing TSA powers to bring change to the industry, the Post said.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives, called the move “a major step in the right direction towards ensuring that pipeline operators are taking cybersecurity seriously and reporting any incidents immediately.”



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