facebook linkedin twitter

Bigger Government Role Expected to Protect Industry From Hackers

October 26, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
Bigger Government Role Expected to Protect Industry From Hackers

WASHINGTON — Large-scale cyberattacks continued this week in the United States and abroad as computer security experts told a congressional panel Tuesday that more government intervention is needed.

On Monday, Microsoft announced that Russia-backed hackers were trying to steal information technology to disrupt the global supply chain.

On Tuesday, cyberattackers shut down gas stations across Iran. In Germany, a major auto components supplier was hacked, possibly interfering with automobile production throughout the country.

Other attacks were reported this week at schools in Colorado and Wisconsin.


“The threat is evolving much more quickly than our defense,” said Suzanne Spaulding, a Homeland Security International Security Program senior advisor.

She testified to the House Homeland Security subcommittee on cybersecurity as it considers proposals to require transportation companies to meet minimum requirements for protecting their computer systems that operate the nation’s transit systems, airlines, pipelines and railroads.

The Transportation Security Administration is close to finalizing the requirements. They come with a huge controversy for private industry.

Corporations have traditionally relied upon voluntary guidelines to protect their businesses and customers. They argue against the heavy hand of government regulation, along with the fines and court orders that could accompany it.

Witnesses at the congressional hearing said recent events show voluntary guidelines are too weak to adequately protect the public and the nation’s economy.

Spaulding said that until recently she also favored voluntary private market compliance with cybersecurity guidelines.

“Markets are generally more efficient and, important for such a dynamic area as cyber, nimbler,” she said. “However, over the last couple of years, I have reluctantly had to conclude that we cannot rely upon markets alone to ensure the continuity of nationally critical functions upon which the American public relies.”


Lawmakers and witnesses discussed the May 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack as a prime example of the damage cyberattackers can cause.

Gasoline and jet fuel deliveries along the 5,500-mile pipeline from Houston, Texas, to the East Coast were shut down for five days while the attackers demanded a $4.4 million bitcoin ransom.

Colonial Pipeline officials paid the ransom but also generated disputes that continued this week about whether anyone should need to respond to demands of thieves who use software to extort money.

“Time is not on our side,” Spaulding said.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the cybersecurity subcommittee, said lawmakers were “shocked” by weaknesses in Colonial Pipeline’s cybersecurity.

She also said cyberattacks and ransomware are a special threat for her constituents in New York, which is a major hub for airports, rail systems and transit. Six months ago, Chinese hackers infiltrated computers of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“Fortunately, they did not gain access to operational systems that control rail cars, but I remain concerned about the cybersecurity of mass transit systems generally and MTA’s network in particular,” Clarke said. “Given the degree to which middle- and low-income people rely on public transportation, a cyberattack affecting mass transit could have a disproportionate impact on these populations.”

She welcomed the Transportation Security Administration’s upcoming cybersecurity standards for transportation companies and agencies.

“They mark a pivotal transition in the federal government’s approach to cybersecurity,” Clarke said.

The new standards could not come soon enough, according to respondents in a survey released last week by Texas-based cloud computing company Rackspace Technology.


The survey of 1,420 government information technology decision-makers showed that less than half believe their personnel are prepared to mitigate or understand all cyber threats.

Tom can be reached at [email protected]

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Cybersecurity

May 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
Federal Agencies Told to Act Quickly to Turn Back Cyberthreat

WASHINGTON — The entity charged with protecting federal agencies from bad cyber actors issued a rare emergency directive Thursday, warning... Read More

WASHINGTON — The entity charged with protecting federal agencies from bad cyber actors issued a rare emergency directive Thursday, warning they should quickly take steps to protect themselves from vulnerabilities found in VMware. VMware is a cloud computing and virtualization technology company headquartered in Palo Alto,... Read More

May 6, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Cybercrime Tracking Bill Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice can now get a handle on the number of cybercrimes happening in the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice can now get a handle on the number of cybercrimes happening in the U.S. after President Joe Biden signed a bill into law Thursday granting the department the ability to track crimes that have become increasingly prevalent in recent years.... Read More

May 4, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Russian Cyberthreats Create Alarms at Senate Homeland Security Hearing

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers at a Senate hearing renewed warnings Wednesday that Russian cyberattacks remain a serious threat as the United... Read More

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers at a Senate hearing renewed warnings Wednesday that Russian cyberattacks remain a serious threat as the United States and allies continue their support for Ukraine. In the latest move, the European Union announced Tuesday it would end all oil imports from Russia in... Read More

April 26, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
FBI Warns of Ransomware Attackers Using Sophisticated Program

WASHINGTON — The FBI is warning that computer hackers most likely based in Russia have compromised at least 60 organizations... Read More

WASHINGTON — The FBI is warning that computer hackers most likely based in Russia have compromised at least 60 organizations since last month with a new generation of a sophisticated programming language.  The targets of the ransomware attacks have included a Swiss airport management company and... Read More

April 22, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
FBI Warns Farmers to Beware Ransomware Cyberattacks

WASHINGTON — The FBI issued a warning this week to farm cooperatives that ransomware attackers are increasingly trying to disrupt... Read More

WASHINGTON — The FBI issued a warning this week to farm cooperatives that ransomware attackers are increasingly trying to disrupt their operations during the planting and harvest seasons. The FBI announcement was one of several warnings about cyberattacks that are becoming more shrill as Russia continues... Read More

April 7, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Warning of Cyberattacks on Backup Power Devices

WASHINGTON — There’s a new warning about cyberattacks on uninterruptible power supplies — essentially the backup batteries that allow near-continuous... Read More

WASHINGTON — There’s a new warning about cyberattacks on uninterruptible power supplies — essentially the backup batteries that allow near-continuous operation when there is a power failure. The Federal Communications Commission issued this warning Thursday to communications companies that often use these backups to keep the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top