Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm issued a warning to American companies: our adversaries have the capability to shut down the entire U.S. power grid.
When Granholm was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about vulnerabilities in the electricity grid and whether a foreign actor has the ability to shut it down, Granholm said, “Yeah, they do. There are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector generally.”
She added, “It’s happening all the time. This is why the private sector and the public sector have to work together.”
In recent months, cyberattacks have led to temporary shutdowns of the country’s largest fuel pipeline network and the world’s largest meatpacking company, both believed to have been carried out by Russian hackers. The hackers target companies through weaknesses in their cybersecurity and then hold hostage certain data and systems, demanding payment to restore control back to the company.
Granholm emphasized that companies need to defend themselves against this threat by increasing their cybersecurity measures. “Everyone needs to wake up and up their game in terms of protecting themselves, but also in terms of telling the federal government if they are a target of attacks,” she said.
The secretary also noted that new regulations from the Transportation Security Agency now mandate that pipeline companies report cyber incidents to the federal government immediately when they happen, but Granholm urged companies not to pay the ransom, saying that “it only encourages the bad guys.”
Granholm’s comments echoed those of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who told the Wall Street Journal last week, “The scale of this problem is one that I think the country has to come to terms with.”
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